U.S. officials question Iran’s role in Iraq
While this week’s National Intelligence Estimate on Iran has muddled the debate over its nuclear ambitions, U.S. military officials apparently are unconvinced that Iran has stopped its alleged “interference” in Iraq.
In a release issued Friday, military officials in Baghdad asked, “Is Iran really stopping the flow of munitions and explosives into Iraq as they claim? Too early to tell, you be the judge. Fourteen Iranian-made rockets found [Thursday] are solid proof that the influence is there and possibly still coming across the border.”
The rockets were turned in to coalition troops southeast of Baghdad, U.S. military officials said. The rockets were manufactured in late 2006, officials said, and were found along with their fuses, which means “the rockets were ready to be used in the very near future,” the release read.
Iraqi civil defense personnel turned the rockets over to Kazakhstani soldiers at Forward Operating Base Delta, officials said.
Top U.S. military officials have long accused Iran of sending weapons to Iraqi militia groups, training Shiite fighters and working to undermine parts of the new Iraqi government.
This week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, were cautious when talking about Iran’s role.
“I think it is a little too soon to tell whether the decline [in the use of Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators] we are seeing is more from more success from finding caches, disrupting networks as well as the decision on part of some of the Shiite groups to lower the level of violence,” Gates said to reporters in Manama, Bahrain, on Thursday. “How that ties together with what the Iranians may or may not be doing is just too early to tell.”
Petraeus also told reporters this week that he was cautious about assessing Iran’s role in Iraq.
“We look forward to all elements of the Iranian government following the promises, making real the promises that Iran’s senior leaders have made to their Iraqi counterparts to stop the training, funding, arming and directing of organizations like the special groups,” Petraeus said, according to wire reports.
Gates said only time will tell about Iran’s intentions.
“Based on my talks with everyone, including General Petraeus, I think that that’s still an open question,” Gates said, according to the wire reports. “[Iran’s leaders] clearly have made some commitments to the government of Iraq. And I think we’re waiting to see. I think it’s a little too soon to tell.”