Defense Secretary Robert Gates tied Iran's government to large shipments of weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan and said Wednesday that such quantities were unlikely without Tehran's knowledge.
Gates' comments, coming after accusations by a State Department official, were the strongest by a Cabinet secretary about Iran's support of the terrorist group in Afghanistan.
Basing his conclusions on new intelligence, Gates said "given the quantities (of weapons) that we're seeing, it is difficult to believe that it is associated with smuggling or the drug business or that it's taking place without the knowledge of the Iranian government."
He said that the latest information indicates a "fairly substantial flow of weapons" is crossing into Afghanistan. ...
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN on Wednesday that "there's irrefutable evidence the Iranians are now doing this."
"It's certainly coming from the government of Iran," he said. "It's coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard corps command, which is a basic unit of the Iranian government."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters "it certainly is hard to believe that the Iranian government isn't involved in some way, shape or form in this."
Gates and other defense officials would not go as far as Burns did. The Pentagon chief also said he was not as certain about the link to Iran's Quds Force, which is accused of arming and training Iraqi militants.
In April, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed that Iranian-made weapons intended for Taliban insurgents were intercepted by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Pace said at the time that it was not clear which Iranian entity was responsible for the arms, which included mortars and C-4 plastic explosives.
For a list of stories about Iran's war-making against us in Iraq, see the links in this post.
UPDATE I -- June 29: From CNN: Roadside bomb kills 5 U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.
UPDATE II -- July 1: From CNN: Officials: Captured Hezbollah agent helped plan deadly Karbala raid.
top special operations officer from Lebanon's Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah has been captured in Iraq, where U.S. officials say he played a key role in a January attack that killed five Americans.
A 2006 poster in Iraq shows Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, left, and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Ali Mussa Daqduq, an explosives expert, was captured in March in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where he was helping train and lead Shiite militias fighting coalition troops, U.S. intelligence officials told CNN.
Daqduq pretended to be deaf and mute when captured, and his identity was not known for weeks, the officials said.
Once uncovered, however, they said he began to talk, and they now believe he played a crucial role in the January 20 attack in Karbala. ...
Intelligence officials say Daqduq is one of Hezbollah's top special operations commanders, an expert in the use of roadside bombs. The Americans say he, along with the Iraqi militia commanders he worked with, has admitted working with Iran's elite Quds Force special operations unit.
U.S. commanders have said for months that Iraqi militants have been receiving weapons and training from members of the Quds Force, an element of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Washington has demanded the Iranian government stop the flow of arms and militants across its border -- which, along with the diplomatic standoff over Iran's nuclear fuel program, has raised fears of a wider war in the region.
Iran, which has close ties to the Shiite parties that control Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government, has repeatedly denied the allegations. But U.S. intelligence officials said the Quds Force has been backing the creation of Shiite "special groups" modeled on Hezbollah, which holds sway over much of southern Lebanon.
Posted by Forkum at June 28, 2007 02:55 PM