Saturday, October 08, 2005

UK military not sure that Iran is supplying weapons.

Trevor Royle in The Sunday Herald, 9 October 2005, reports on the alleged role of Iran in supplying weapons to Iraq.

Royle states that the UK military is not sure that Iran is actually involved.

A senior officer told The Herald: “We can’t be definite about this one. The force of the explosions is so great that there’s very little left in the way of clues to let us know the weapons’ provenance. In any case, you can find all you want to know about how to build them on the internet.”

Asked if there was official Iranian involvement in arms supplies to Iraq, the Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita replied: “That I am not aware of.”

Brigadier General Carter Ham, US deputy director for regional operations, was asked the same question. While he conceded that bombmaking equipment was probably being smuggled into Iraq, he denied knowledge of any Iranian complicity in the operations: “It’s not known to the best of my understanding.”

According to The Herald:

Iranian officials say they are not involved in supplying weapons.

Iran's ambassador in London, Dr Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli, said the charges “cannot be supported by either any political analyst or any concrete evidence” and added that his country is “against any kind of action which might jeopardise or destroy the stabilisation process of Iraq”.

The Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari distanced himself from Blair’s allegations by claiming that the charges were “without foundation” and that “relations between Iran and Iraq are friendly and progressing”.

The Herald's Trevor Royle writes:

There is also the question of whose interests are served by Iran supplying weapons to the insurgents. In the south, the Shia majority are their allies and in central Iraq the insurgency is being conducted by Sunnis and former Baath Party members who are determined to prevent Shia hegemony. It is difficult to find any reason why Iran would want to foster violence ahead of this week’s constitutional referendum in Iraq and there is no evidence to suggest that Iran is intent on destabilising the present interim administration. A victory for the Shia factions would be likely to lead to the new government building friendly links with its near neighbour and there would be nothing to gain by souring that relationship...

The Iranians claim that British special forces had been fomenting trouble by supporting “some terrorist elements who crossed the Iranian border and were behind some explosions in southern parts of Iran”...

Local intelligence suggests that the bombs are made in secret workshops in Iraq to designs supplied by Hezbollah and that trained military personnel still loyal to Saddam are involved in the process. “The enemy is evolving and constantly innovating,” says Brigadier General Josef Votel, who leads the US army’s IED Defeat Task Force. “If there were any thoughts that this is a rudimentary and unsophisticated enemy, those thoughts have been replaced.”



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