By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 15, 2007 - Recent weapons cache finds in Iraq indicate that the Iranian government is living up to its promise to Iraqi leaders to stem the flow of weapons across the border into Iraq, a senior U.S. general in Baghdad told reporters today. Army Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, Multinational Corps Iraq's deputy commander for support, said coalition troops and Iraqi security forces continue to find Iranian weapons in caches they uncover.
"But most of these weapons appear to have been in Iraq for months," he said. "So we have not seen any recent evidence that weapons continue to come across the border into Iraq. We believe that the initiatives and the commitments that the Iranians have made appear to be holding up."
Simmons credited the new Multinational Corps Iraq Law Enforcement Forensics Laboratory with providing scientific analysis that's able to determine how long weapons caches have been in place. "For most of the caches we have found, we have been able to determine that those weapons systems have been there for months," he said.
Pressed by reporters, Simmons insisted there's been no sign that Iran is continuing to send weapons into Iraq. "If we found evidence that a weapon system had just come across the border from Iran, we would be standing here telling you that," he said. "But right now, I have not had any evidence laid in front of me that says that they have violated the commitment they have made."
Officials in Tehran reportedly assured Iraqi government leaders they would work to stop the flow of bomb-making materials and other weapons into Iraq.
"It is my understanding that they have provided such assurances," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters during a Nov. 1 Pentagon news conference.
Gates said he had no solid proof that Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, was aware that parts for explosively formed penetrators, the most deadly form of roadside bomb, had been flowing from Iran into Iraq. "I haven't seen anything definitive along those lines," Gates said. "My guess is that the highest levels are aware."
Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed there's no proof that Iranian leaders were aware of the shipments. "Although I don't know how they couldn't be," he said.
Meanwhile, the Multinational Corps Iraq commander reported earlier this month that the number of explosively formed penetrators being found in Iraq is down. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said during a Nov. 1 videoconference from Baghdad that coalition forces encountered 53 EFPs in October, 52 in September, 78 in August, and 99 in July.
Like Gates and Mullen, Odierno said he was adopting a wait-and-see approach before attributing the trend to any downshift in Iran's activities. "It's unclear yet to me whether they have slowed down brining in weapons and supporting the insurgency or not," he said. "I'll still wait and see."