US says Iran smuggling missiles to Iraq By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago
BAGHDAD - The U.S. military accused Iran on Sunday of smuggling surface-to-air missiles and other advanced weapons into Iraq for use against American troops. The new allegations came as Iraqi leaders condemned the latest U.S. detention of an Iranian in northern Iraq, saying the man was in their country on official business.
Military spokesman Rear Adm. Mark Fox said U.S. troops were continuing to find Iranian-supplied weaponry including the Misagh 1, a portable surface-to-air missile that uses an infrared guidance system.
Other advanced Iranian weaponry found in Iraq includes the RPG-29 rocket-propelled grenade, 240 mm rockets and armor-piercing roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, Fox said.
An American soldier was killed Saturday and another wounded when an EFP hit their patrol in eastern Baghdad, the military said.
Iran has denied U.S. allegations that it is smuggling weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq, a denial that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" aired Sunday.
"We don't need to do that. We are very much opposed to war and insecurity," said Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York Sunday to attend the U.N. General Assembly. "The insecurity in Iraq is detrimental to our interests."
Tensions between Iran and the United States have worried Iraqi officials — many of whom are members of political parties with close ties to Tehran.
A 240 mm rocket was fired this month at the main U.S. headquarters base in Iraq, killing one person and wounding 11.
U.S. officials said the rocket was fired from a west Baghdad neighborhood controlled by Shiite militiamen.
On Thursday, U.S. troops arrested an Iranian in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. U.S. officials said he was a member of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that smuggles weapons into Iraq.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the Iranian's arrest, saying he understood the man, who has been identified as Mahmudi Farhadi, had been invited to Iraq.
"The government of Iraq is an elected one and sovereign. When it gives a visa, it is responsible for the visa," he told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. "We consider the arrest ... of this individual who holds an Iraqi visa and a (valid) passport to be unacceptable."
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, also demanded the Iranian's release.
The U.S. military said the suspect was being questioned about "his knowledge of, and involvement in," the transportation of EFPs and other roadside bombs from Iran into Iraq and "his facilitation of travel and training in Iran for Iraqi insurgents." The military said no decision had been made about whether to file charges.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Farhadi was in charge of border transactions in western Iran and went to Iraq on an official invitation.
He said Iran expects the Iraqi government to provide security for Iranian nationals there and warned the arrest could affect relations between the two neighbors as well.
Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, said a shipment of chlorine had crossed the border from Jordan after concerns were raised about shortages of the chemical needed to prevent an outbreak of cholera from spreading.
Officials said earlier that as much as 100,000 tons of chlorine was being held up at the border for fear it would be hijacked and used in explosives. Several chlorine truck bombs blamed on suspected Sunni insurgents earlier this year killed scores of people.
Naeem al-Qabi, the deputy chief of Baghdad's municipal council, said warehouses in the capital were preparing to accept the chlorine, which would help purify water supplies.
"There is some administrative work needed to be done and it will be finished very soon," al-Qabi said.
Iraq now has a total of 1,652 confirmed cases of cholera after three new cases were confirmed in Salahuddin province, according to an update on the World Health Organization's Web site on Sunday. Earlier, cholera was confirmed in the provinces of Sulaimaniyah, Tamim and Irbil, as well as a case each in Baghdad and in Basra.
"As the weather cools and becomes more favorable for transmission, the organism is expected to spread to other provinces," the WHO's country office in Iraq said on its Web site.
Cholera is endemic to Iraq, with about 30 cases registered each year. The last major outbreak was in 1999, when 20 cases were discovered in one day.
Also Sunday, Iraq's minister of state for national security, Sherwan al-Waili, took over the security operations center in Basra as tensions rose in the southern city following the assassination of a local representative of Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
The region has been rocked by violence between rival Shiite militias linked to political parties, raising concerns about security as the British military has pulled back its troops from the city center to a nearby airport to allow Iraqi security forces to take over.
Al-Waili told reporters that he will temporarily head the operations center until a new security plan is implemented "very soon" in the city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Well, maybe if we didn't invade IRAQ based on lies and beefed-up intelligence, we wouldn't be able to accuse IRAN of arming them and promoting war under yet another quise of "nuclear" proliferation.
Maybe if 911 didn't happen, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq, based on lies and beefed up intelligence and we wouldn't be blaming IRAN for aiding the enemy.
Mabye if we would have used our military and resources to find bin Laden, we wouldn't have to be reminded on a daily basis that the most powerful terrorist ALIVE can strike the US at any moment.
Ahmadinejad: Iran, US not headed for war By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 12 minutes ago
NEW YORK - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in New York to protests Sunday and said in a television interview that Iran was neither building a nuclear bomb nor headed to war with the United States.
The president's motorcade pulled up to the midtown hotel where he will be staying while he appears at a series of events including the U.N. General Assembly and a forum at Columbia University, where about 40 elected officials and civic leaders decried his visit.
Ahmadinejad's public-relations push appears aimed at presenting his views directly to a U.S. audience amid rising strains and talk of war between the two nations.
Tensions are high between Washington and Tehran over U.S. accusations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, as well as helping Shiite militias in Iraq that target U.S. troops — claims Iran denies.
"Well, you have to appreciate we don't need a nuclear bomb. We don't need that. What need do we have for a bomb?" Ahmadinejad said in the "60 Minutes" interview taped in Iran on Thursday. "In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use. If it was useful it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union."
He also said that: "It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing."
Before leaving Iran, Ahmadinejad said the American people have been denied "correct information," and his visit will give them a chance to hear a different voice, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Washington has said it is addressing the Iran situation diplomatically, rather than militarily, but U.S. officials also say that all options are open. The commander of the U.S. military forces in the Middle East said he did not believe tensions will lead to war.
"This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me, which is not helpful and not useful," Adm. William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, which made a partial transcript available Sunday.
Ahmadinejad's scheduled address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday will be his third time attending the New York meeting in three years.
But his request to lay a wreath at ground zero was denied by city officials and condemned by politicians who said a visit to the site of the 2001 terror attacks would violate sacred ground.
Police cited construction and security concerns in denying Ahmadinejad's request. Ahmadinejad told 60 Minutes he would not press the issue but expressed disbelief that the visit would offend Americans.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, hundreds of young Iranians held a series of candlelight vigils in Tehran.
"Usually you go to these sites to pay your respects. And also to perhaps air your views about the root causes of such incidents," Ahmadinejad told the network.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini also appeared dismayed that the request was rejected.
"What kind of damage will the U.S. face (by Ahmadinejad visiting the site)?" Hosseini said at his weekly press conference Sunday.
Columbia canceled a planned visit by the Iranian president last year, also citing security and logistical reasons.
University President Lee Bollinger has resisted requests to cancel Ahmadinejad's speech this year but promised to introduce the talk himself with a series of tough questions on topics including the Iranian leader's views on the Holocaust, his call for the destruction of the state of Israel and his government's alleged support of terrorism.
Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
At the protests, New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said Ahmadinejad "should be arrested when he comes to Columbia University, not invited to speak for God's sake."
Ahmadinejad's visit to New York is also being debated back home. Some in Iran think his trip is a publicity stunt that hurts Iran's image in the world.
Political analyst Iraj Jamshidi said Ahmadinejad looks at the General Assembly as a publicity forum simply to surprise world leaders with his harsh rhetoric.
"The world has not welcomed Ahmadinejad's hardline approach. His previous address to the assembly didn't resolve any of Iran's foreign policy issues. And no one expects anything better this time," he said.
But conservative lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said it was a good chance for Iran to air its position.
"This trip gives the president a good chance to meet world leaders and inform them of Iran's rightful position," IRNA quoted Boroujerdi as saying.
Like this man decides whether or not the US military invades IRAN or not!!
Oh, thank you for appeasing the American people!!!!!
Bush wants peaceful resolution to the Iranian problem, but war preparations have been cited.
Bush wants diplomatic end to 'Iran problem'
Mon Oct 1, 2:01 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush wants a peaceful end to "the Iranian problem," the White House said Monday after a fresh report that the United States is looking at possible military options.
"The president has said that he believes there is a diplomatic solution that we can use to solve the Iranian problem. And that's why we're working with our allies to get there," said Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Perino refused to comment on an article in The New Yorker magazine about alleged US preparations for war except to express frustration with its unnamed sources and with other US media outlets for reporting what the piece said.
"We don't discuss such things. What we have said and what we are working toward is a diplomatic solution in Iran," she said.
"What the president has also said is that as a president, as a commander in chief -- and any commander in chief would not take any option off the table -- but the option that we are pursuing right now is diplomacy," said Perino.
The magazine reported that the White House had asked the Pentagon earlier this year to redraw longstanding contingency plans for a possible attack on the Islamic republic amid concerns over its nuclear program and allegations of aiding fighters who target US troops in Iraq.
The New Yorker, which cited anonymous sources, said that Bush told the US ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, a few months ago that he was thinking of hitting Iranian targets across Iraq's border and that he had British support.
At that point, the magazine said, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interjected that Washington needed to proceed carefully because of diplomatic outreach to Tehran, and Bush ended up telling Crocker to warn Iran of retribution if it continued to interfere with US-led efforts in Iraq.
"I'm not going to comment on that," said Perino. "I'm not going to comment on any possible scenario that an anonymous source continues to feed into (investigative reporters Seymour) Sy Hersh. I'm just not going to do it."
Mullen: US action in Iran last resort
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
9 minutes ago
Thursday, October 18, 2007
WASHINGTON - While military action against Iran is a last resort, the U.S. has the resources to attack if needed despite the strains of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the top U.S. military officer said Thursday.
Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the focus now is on diplomacy to stem Iran's nuclear ambitions and its support for insurgents in Iraq.
But, he told reporters, "there is more than enough reserve to respond (militarily) if that, in fact, is what the national leadership wanted to do."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons could set of an arms race in the Middle East. "The risk of an accident or a miscalculation or of those weapons or materials falling into the hands of terrorists seem to me to be substantially increased," he said.
Appearing together before reporters for the first time since Mullen became chairman on Oct. 1, they expressed concern about Iran and Turkey — hot spots commanding attention even as the military focuses on the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both leaders warned of serious repercussions if Congress were to pass a nonbinding resolution labeling as genocide the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, around World War I.
"I don't think the Turks are bluffing. I think it is that meaningful to them," Gates said. "I think there is a very real risk of perhaps not shutting us down" in terms of access to Turkish airspace for resupplying U.S. troops in Iraq, but of at least restricting it.
"I will say again it has potential to do real harm to our troops in Iraq and would strain — perhaps beyond repair — our relationship with a key ally in a vital region and in the wider war on terror," the Pentagon chief said.
At the same time, Gates said the U.S. and the Iraqis are "prepared to do the appropriate thing" in acting against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, that has conducted raids into Turkey from northern Iraq.
The Turks have expressed frustration about the lack of action by the U.S. against the group. Gates attributed that largely to a lack of specific intelligence.
The Turkish parliament this week authorized the government to send troops across the border to go after the Kurdish rebels, despite repeated pleas from Washington to focus on diplomatic efforts.
Gates also said he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is serious about trying to play a constructive role in resolving the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.
"President Putin takes Iran seriously as a security concern for Russia, and I think they are prepared to take some actions as befits that," Gates said.
Mullen said the U.S. military is working hard to stem the flow from Iran into Afghanistan of high-tech materials for roadside bombs. The military has said that parts from the armor-piercing bombs, which have killed hundreds of troops in Iraq, are now getting into Afghanistan.
Mullen said he is not aware of any high-level Iranian government connection to the weapons in Afghanistan, although officials have said that is a concern in Iraq.
At a separate Pentagon news conference, Afghanistan's defense chief, Abdul Rahim Wardak, told reporters that his government recently obtained evidence that Iranian weapons are entering his country.
He said he raised the matter with Iranian officials last month and they denied any involvement.
Also Thursday, Gates said the private security guards in Iraq — such as those who killed a number of Iraqi citizens — may be hurting the U.S. military's effort to stabilize the country.
The military and the contractors, he said, have conflicting missions. While the contractors are trying to keep alive those people being guarded, the military is striving to improve relations with the Iraqis and solidify the government.
"There have been instances where, to put it mildly, the Iraqis have been offended and not treated properly" by the private guards, Gates said. "So those kinds of activities work at cross-purposes to our larger mission in Iraq."
Gates said he plans to confer with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about tighter controls over the contractors.