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No proof of Iran supplying weapons to Taliban - Gates contradicts Burns

Press Esc | June 15, 2007

There's no proof that Iranian government is supplying weapons to Taliban, US Defense Secretary was forced to admit today, contradicting a statement by State Department official who accused the Iranian government of transferring the weapons.

"I have seen analysis suggesting a considerable flow of weapons and support from Iran," Gates Robert Gates told reporters in Brussels. "And I have not seen information that would directly tie it to approval by the government of Iran."

Defense Secretary's statement comes in stark contrast to accusations made by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns.

“It's certainly coming from the government of Iran,” Burns said in a June 13 interview on CNN. “It's coming from the Iranian revolutionary guard corps command, which is a basic unit of the Iranian government.”

Gates also declined to comment on whether NATO has actually intercepted some of these shipments saying " I would rather not go into that."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also said on June 13 that there is a “shift” in the policy of the Iranian government “from either benign, neutral, to somewhat helpful in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 2001, 2002, to something quite different that does not promote stability in Afghanistan.” adding that the behavior would mark a direct effort by Iran to undermine the Afghan government's efforts to defeat Taliban insurgents in an effort to extend its authority throughout the country.

But McCormack also quickly pointed out that he could not draw a “hard link … between an Iranian government approved program and the transfer of those arms,” but said it is “hard to believe that they're not.”

Gates also speculated that Iranian government was aware of what is going on.

" That said, as I indicated, I think that it's -- the quantity that we're seeing makes it difficult to believe that the Iranian government doesn't have some indication or some knowledge of it," he said.

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