Tuesday, March 14, 2006
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday the United States does not have proof that Iran's government is responsible for Iranians smuggling weapons and military personnel into Iraq.
President George W. Bush said on Monday components from Iran were being used in powerful roadside bombs used in Iraq, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel had been inside Iraq.
Asked whether the United States has proof that Iran's government was behind these developments, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon briefing, "I do not, sir."
"Unless you physically see it in a government-sponsored vehicle or with government-sponsored troops, you can't know it," Rumsfeld said at the same briefing. "All you know is that you find equipment, weapons, explosives, whatever, in a country that came from the neighboring country."
"With respect to people, it's very difficult to tie a thread precisely to the government of Iran," Rumsfeld added.
Washington's charges about Iranian weapons and personnel in Iraq have added to tensions between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.
Rumsfeld reiterated that there was evidence that Revolutionary Guard personnel had been in Iraq, and said, "It's entirely possible there are rogue elements and they're just there on their own or they're pilgrims. Not likely."
Bush said on Monday, referring to improvised explosive devices: "Some of the most powerful IEDs we're seeing in Iraq today includes components that came from Iran."