U.S. Pentagon conference says weapons entered Iraq from Iran

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Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Donald Rumsfeld. File photo of press conference 2005-06-27. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

In a televised Pentagon press briefing Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stood by a press release from the Pentagon on Monday that reported explosives and bombs crossed into Iraq from across the Iranian border. A weapons cache was said to have been intercepted. "It is true that weapons, clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq," Rumsfeld said today.

Evidence reportedly indicated the quality and sophistication of the weapons was such that they may have been manufactured in Iran, but Rumsfeld was unable or unwilling to describe the weapons further. Timing of the Pentagon release coincides with the controversy over Iran restarting its nuclear facilities.

Rumsfeld, with the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, Richard Myers, said the jihadist effort in Iraq was aimed at inciting civil war, since they realize they cannot directly defeat the coalition. Speaking on the issue of border crossings of troops and munitions from Syria and Iran, Rumsfeld implied that those nations don't want progress in to be made in Iraq. He said, "... what are the Iranians doing? Are they going to be helpful or unhelpful? ... same with the Syrians... are they being helpful or unhelpful?"

The two cited progress by the Iraqi government in working toward the August 15 deadline for drafting a new constitution. In a nod to the possibility that the deadline will be missed, it was said that the constitution could be amended, and that voting on ratification would occur in October of this year, with a general election to follow in December. Myers referred to a shift in the Sunni participation in the process, saying, "All indications are that the Sunni leadership in Iraq has made a fundamental decision that they want to be part of the process."

They reasserted previous President Bush statements that there is no clear time-table for an Iraqi withdrawal because it depends on the situation at the time. "The drawdowns that will occur eventually will obviously be based on those conditions." Rumsfeld said. Further questions by reporters intending to pin down a clear withdrawal time-line were rebuffed.

Myers said, "You have economic progress that has to be made; you have political progress that has to be made." He added that "173,000 Iraqi security forces" are in place in the country, but along with work on the country's infrastructure, much remains to be done with the training and equipping of their security forces.

Sources

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