Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, on a visit to London, has rejected accusations that Shi’ite Muslim Iran is interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs. But Tony Blair says his government suspects Iran is the source of explosives used in roadside bombs that have killed British troops.
Blair said he can’t prove the accusations. But he said the use of the bombs may have been an attempt by Tehran to intimidate Britain over its tough stance in negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
“The particular nature of those devices lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hizbollah, because they are similar to the devices used by Hizbollah, that is funded and supported by Iran”, he said.
Eight British soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs since May. They are sophisticated, impossible to detect and are triggered when a vehicle touches an invisible, infra-red beam. The explosives power a metal ball capabale of penetrating most of the armour-plating used by the army, leaving soldiers virtually defenceless.
That Iran could be supplying these weapons marks a new low in relations with Britain which are in trouble over accusations of weapons smuggling and the breakdown of talks on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.