Top U.S. Military Official:
No Evidence of Iran Involvement in Iraq
By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Post" -- - Marine Corps Gen. Peter
Pace, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, said today
he has no evidence the Iranian government has been
sending military equipment and personnel into
On Monday, President Bush suggested Iran was involved in
making roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive
devices, that are being used in Iraq. And Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld last week accused Iran of
sending members of its Revolutionary Guard to conduct
operations in Iraq.
Today, Pace, the top U.S. military official, was asked
at a Pentagon news conference if he has proof that
Iran's government is sponsoring these activities.
"I do not, sir," Pace said.
The Bush administration's statements about alleged
Iranian involvement in Iraq come amid increasing
tensions between Washington and Tehran over Iran's
Rumsfeld, standing beside Pace, said today it is
difficult to ascertain whether the Iranian government is
directly involved in sending military equipment and
personnel to Iraq.
"As to equipment, unless you physically see it coming in
in a government-sponsored vehicle, or with
government-sponsored troops, you can't know it" comes
from Iran's government, Rumsfeld said. "All you know is
that you find equipment -- weapons, explosives, whatever
-- in a country that came from the neighboring country.
"With respect to people, it's very difficult to tie a
thread precisely to the government of Iran. As we all
know, there are pilgrimages where Shi'a come from Iran
and around the world to go to holy places in Iraq, and
they come by the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands.
And so, that is also a difficult" to prove.
Rumsfeld again declined to offer a timetable for
withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq. On a day
when police around Baghdad discovered more than 80
bodies -- apparent victims of the sectarian violence
that has gripped the country since the Feb. 22 bombing
of a Shiite mosque in Samarra -- Rumsfeld called the
day-to-day events in Iraq "clearly a very difficult
Asked how long Americans might be fighting in Iraq,
Rumsfeld said: "We know that insurgencies can last five,
eight, 10, 12, 15 years and we've said that. We also
know that insurgencies ultimately are defeated, not by
foreign occupying forces but by the indigenous forces of
that particular country. . . . "
Rumsfeld added: "Now, the implication to your question
is, do we think we're going to be there four or five
years more in terms of large numbers of U.S. ground
forces? And the answer is no, I don't think so. Those
are decisions for the president. They're decisions for
Bush vowed yesterday to turn over most of Iraq to newly
trained troops from that country by the end of this
year. But he made no commitments about withdrawing U.S.
Rumsfeld said there are too many uncertainties to make
such commitments. "Now if anyone in the world was smart
enough to know precisely what the behavior of Iran, what
the behavior of Syria, what the level of the insurgency
would be; how fast they'll get a government; how
confident the people will be in the new government, then
one could probably draw a line and say, 'Gee, the
trajectory of our troop reduction ought to be about like
this,' " Rumsfeld said.
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