LONDON — The United States and Britain have warned Iran over its possible involvement in terrorist bomb attacks in Iraq, top officials said yesterday.
Iran denies meddling in Iraq and says the accusations are psychological warfare tied to efforts by Washington and London to report Tehran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said this month that there was evidence that Iran or its Lebanese Hezbollah allies were the source of sophisticated technology used in roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), that have targeted British soldiers in southern Iraq.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that Washington had warned Tehran over the issue.
“We have tried to deliver a message … about this issue of IEDs in southern Iraq,” Miss Rice told reporters while in London for talks with Mr. Blair. “We have channels with which to do it. But we use them sternly and pretty specifically to deliver messages.”
Washington has no formal diplomatic ties with Iran, but occasionally talks with the government through Swiss diplomats in Tehran or Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York.
The Iranian ambassador in London, Seyed Mohammed Hossein Adeli, told British Broadcasting Corp.’s Radio 4 that his country did not support the use of violence against British troops in Iraq and added that stability in Iraq was in Iran’s best interest.
Mr. Adeli denied any suggestion that Iran had supplied explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents attacking British forces.
“We have already rejected categorically any link between Iran and the incidents that have taken place with British troops,” he said.
He said it was not surprising that some explosive devices found in Iraq were similar to Iranian devices because weapons from the two countries’ eight-year war still litter the region.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, speaking separately to BBC radio, insisted that Britain had evidence linking Iran or Hezbollah to insurgent activity in Iraq.
“What we have presented to the Iranians is evidence which, in our judgment, clearly links the improvised explosive devices which have been used against British and other troops mainly in the south of Iraq to Hezbollah and Iran,” he told BBC radio.
“We look to the Iranians to desist from anything they have been involved with in the past and to use their very considerable influence with Hezbollah to ensure this continued use … stops in Iraq.”
Hezbollah also has denied any links to the Iraq bombs.