Press Release, Westminster Committee on Iran, UK
IRAQ: The elusive Iranian weapons
By Tina Susman in Baghdad, Los Angeles Times
There was something interesting missing from Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner's introductory remarks to journalists at his regular news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday: the word "Iran," or any form of it. It was especially striking as Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman here, announced the extraordinary list of weapons and munitions that have been uncovered in recent weeks since fighting erupted between Iraqi and U.S. security forces and Shiite militiamen.
There were calls today for the US either to show evidence of "high level Iranian government involvement in the supply of weapons to militias in Iraq" or to retract their allegations. The demand from the Westminster Committee on Iran, follows the cancellation of a plan to display alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists in Karbala when it was discovered that none of them originated in Iran. It also follows a news briefing on 7th May 2008 in which Major General Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman, listed thousands of weapons and munitions uncovered in recent weeks during fighting with Shiite militiamen in Karbala, none of which were said to originate in Iran.
Despite the repeated claims by U.S. military officials and politicians that Tehran is supplying arms and training to militiamen in Iraq, neither the United States nor Iraq has displayed any of the alleged arms to the public or press. It is looking less likely that they will, with American military officials saying recently it was up to the Iraqis to show the items, whilst Iraqi officials are reluctant to openly criticise Iran.
The Iranians have consistently denied the accusations and last year General Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted at a Pentagon news conference that there was no evidence of the Iranian government sending any military equipment into Iraq.
Stefan Simanowitz, Chair of the Westminster Committee on Iran, said today:
"Without irony, the Americans repeatedly accuse Iran of interfering in Iraq and yet they consistently fail to provide concrete evidence linking the weapons used by Iraqi militias with the government of Tehran. Whilst there are undoubtedly Iranian-made weapons in Iraq we must recognise that there is a huge black market in explosive devices in Iraq comprised of components from many countries. Given porous border between Iraq and Iran it is not difficult to smuggle weapons across the frontier without the knowledge of either government.
The failure to uncover any Iranian-made weapons in Karbala over recent weeks suggests that there is enough resident technical expertise in Iraq to produce the material that the insurgents are using. With so many explosives stolen from Iraqi army stockpiles during the chaos following the 2003 invasion, it is likely that the insurgents have enough materiel to manufacture their own IEDs for years to come.
Repeated accusations that Tehran is arming and training insurgents who are killing American and British soldiers in Iraq are extremely serious. They inflame public opinion and can be used as casus belli for future military action against Iran. If there is clear evidence linking the Iranian government and Iraqi militias the public and press have a right to see it. If the evidence is merely circumstantial or less that definitive, then this should be clearly stated and the accusations retracted."
... Payvand News - 05/10/08 ... --