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US Denies Iranian Charge of Support for Kurdish Rebels

The U.S. Defense Department is denying a charge by Iran's top leader that the United States is promoting attacks on Iran by a Kurdish independence group based in Iraq.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says he is not aware of any U.S. program to help anti-Iran Kurdish separatists allegedly based in northern Iraq.

"Not to my knowledge are we undertaking anything of that sort," Morrell said.

Morrell was responding to a charge by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said Tuesday the United States is funding and arming a group that is trying to undermine Iran's government. Iranian forces have had deadly clashes with Kurdish separatists in the Iran-Iraq frontier region, and have shelled alleged positions of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan on the Iraqi side of the border. Iraq had condemned the shelling.

The Pentagon spokesman said it is Iran that has been trying to undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq.

"I find it ironic that the Iranians would accuse us of meddling, when, in fact, over the last six, seven years in Iraq they have consistently been trying to undermine the peace and stability that we are trying to bring to the Iraqi people there," Morrell said.

Morrell says another cache of Iranian-supplied high-powered bombs was discovered in Iraq just last week, but he could not say how long the weapons had been in the country. U.S. officials have long accused Iran's security service of supplying the armor-piercing bombs, but have said the supply appears to have slowed, and possibly stopped, in recent months. Still, the spokesman said Iran continues to train Iraqi insurgents, and also to provide support for insurgents in Afghanistan. Iran denies the charges.