WASHINGTON, AP – Technology and materials for making homemade bombs used against British and other U.S.-allied troops in southern Iraq are entering the country from neighboring Iran, a senior British general said Friday.
Maj. Gen. Jim B. Dutton of the British Royal Marines told reporters at the Pentagon that it”s not clear whether the smuggling of illegal arms and explosives across the border is sanctioned by the Iranian government.
"Certainly we”ve seen movements of explosives across the border," he said in an interview by video-teleconference from Basra.
Dutton is the commander of British-led forces in southeastern Iraq, a region whose predominantly Shiite Muslim population has extensive and historic ties to Iran.
"We”re not, regrettably, capturing these arms as they come across the border," Dutton added. "That”s what we would like to do. But I think you”ll know from other reporting that the IED explosions, particularly the advanced technology ones, we believe the technology certainly is coming from across that border."
The term IED refers to homemade bombs, which the U.S. military calls improvised explosive devices and which are the leading killer of American troops in Iraq. They are used less frequently in Dutton”s area, but he said 18 allied troops have been killed by IEDs since Aug. 1, and there is a continuing effort to defeat the threat.
Dutton said he could not discuss specific IED technologies for security reasons, but he said they are being used to make a variety of deadly explosives, "from those that can be made in a relatively simple workshop to those that would require a reasonably sophisticated factory."
In an interview in August, Dutton said there was speculation about arms entering Iraq from Iran but it could not be proven. On Friday he said there was virtually no doubt that Iran is the source of some IED technology. Less clear, he said, is who is behind the arms movements and whether the Iranian government is involved.
"I simply don”t know whether this is Iranian government policy or whether this is simply groups who are using Iran for their own purposes and not being controlled," he said. "I”m simply not qualified and I don”t have the knowledge. I wish I had; it would answer a lot questions for us. But I simply don”t know whether this is official Iranian policy."