News

Pace Stands By Remarks on Iran, Says US Has No Intention of Attacking

Multimedia

Audio

The top U.S. military officer says he believes Iran's government is involved in providing sophisticated explosives to Iraqi insurgents, but he has not seen specific evidence to prove it. The general told VOA, Iran should stop the flow of weaponry and people across its border into Iraq. VOA's Al Pessin is traveling with the general and filed this report from Honolulu.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, says people who talk about this issue need to be precise about where their facts end and their analysis begins.

He says he has no disagreement with others in the U.S. government who have spoken on the subject in recent days. In Canberra, and twice in Jakarta, he repeated that the U.S. government knows material from Iran is being used to make particularly powerful bombs in Iraq, and that Iranians have been arrested twice in the past month participating in the distribution of that material.

But on all three occasions, General Pace declined to repeat the view of U.S. military briefers in Iraq, who told reporters Sunday that Iran's government is behind the effort.

"That does not translate to that the Iranian government per se [specifically], for sure, is directly involved in doing this," he said.

On board his aircraft, General Pace said he personally believes the Iranian government is involved, but he has not seen proof and does not know how high the involvement goes. In any case, he said, the Iranian government should stop the flow of people and weapons into Iraq.

The weapons are roadside bombs packed in strong cylinders. When they explode, they shoot a molten metal projectile that can pierce the armor of U.S. military vehicles.

The military briefers in Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their claim that senior Iranian officials are directly involved in providing powerful bombs to Iraqi insurgents was a conclusion based on what they called the overall tenor of the available evidence. Their evidence included numerous bomb parts they displayed, and the arrest in Iraq of several Iranians who they say belong to the country's elite Quds force, including its second ranking leader. But the briefers said they have not established a direct link between those men and the bomb-making material they showed reporters.

The anonymity of the Baghdad briefers, and their unwillingness or inability to provide specific proof for their claim of high-level Iranian government involvement in the Iraqi insurgency, led to much skepticism of the claim around the world.

But White House spokesman Tony Snow indicated he believes the Baghdad briefers, saying there is not a lot of independent activity in the Iranian government, especially on an issue like supplying weapons to foreign insurgents. And State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the military briefers in Baghdad made a "very strong circumstantial case," and made it very clear that the Iranians are 'up to their eyeballs in this activity.'

On Wednesday, General Pace told a small group of military educators in Jakarta it is 'not acceptable' for Iran to send weapons to Iraq. But at his news conference Tuesday he said the effort to stop the bomb-making and distribution networks will be pursued only inside Iraq.

"We can do what we need to do militarily to protect the U.S. armed forces and the other armed forces inside of Iraq, and we will continue to do so aggressively," he said. "The rest of the Iranian story, then, goes to diplomacy amongst nations."

In the airborne interview, General Pace said there are many ways to get a message to Iran, and that it is not his responsibility to decide whether the United States should speak to Iran directly about the issue. The Bush administration says it will not deal directly with Iran until it suspends its nuclear weapons program.

The controversy over the Baghdad briefing led the New York Times to write an editorial calling for President Bush to make his intentions toward Iran clear, and saying Congress should not allow itself to be convinced to support what the Times called "another disastrous war."

Speaking to American military personnel at the U.S. embassy in Canberra on Monday, General Pace said the United States has "zero intent" to use its military forces now in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf against Iran. He said, "I see no need in the present situation for kinetic action against Iran."

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs