AP: Two U.S. Republican senators said Sunday the United States has evidence that Iran sent weapons and trainers to instruct militants in Iraq to carry out terror attacks there. Associated Press
SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) – Two U.S. Republican senators said Sunday the United States has evidence that Iran sent weapons and trainers to instruct militants in Iraq to carry out terror attacks there.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, told a World Economic Forum panel discussion on Iraq’s future that during a trip last week to Iraq, he saw “evidence that Iran was supplying weapons and bomb-making components to Iraqi terrorists.”
A former Iranian government official, who was on the same panel as Hatch, denied the claims, saying his country was falling prey to a “barrage of accusations” from the U.S. since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
“Iraq is already so full of arms that it doesn’t need arms from Iran,” said hard-liner Mohammed J.A. Larijani, a former deputy foreign minister and brother to Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.
But Sen. Gordon Smith, a Republican from Oregon, told the same panel he saw “confiscated Iranian weapons” and captured Iranians who confessed to a mission to train Iraqi extremists in military tactics.
The two senators did not elaborate. But the U.S. military announced two days ago that it arrested six suspected insurgents in northeast Iraq for membership in a cell that imports weapons from neighboring Iran and sends Iraqis to Iran for training.
Washington says Iran sends members of its elite Republican Guard units into Iraq to carry out deadly attacks and train militias allied with the Shiite-dominated government. Iran denies the allegations.
Larijani said the two senators’ allegations were part of U.S. President George W. Bush’s propaganda campaign against Iran that included labeling the country part of the “axis of evil.”
“Is this a sign of respect?” he questioned, addressing the U.S. senators, who demanded Iranian cooperation with the U.S. to help stabilize Iraq.
Hatch said Washington “respects” the Iranian people, and the U.S. needed to do a better job in “dealing with our friends in Iran.”
“But there are clear indications and there’s no doubt that Iran is sending weapons to kill not only Americans in Iraq, but also Iraqis,” said Hatch, who later warmly shook hands with Larijani.