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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

12 January 2007

Bush Warning To Iran and Syria "Good Policy," Rice Says

U.S. will continue to pursue those who attack its soldiers in Iraq, she adds

Washington -- President Bush’s January 10 warning to Syria and Iran not to endanger U.S. soldiers in Iraq does not indicate a change in the United States’ relations with either county, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said January 12, but “just good policy.” 

Speaking with BBC Arabic Television in Washington, prior to her trip to the Middle East, Rice said, “I don't think there's a government in the world that would sit by and let the Iranians, in particular, run networks inside Iraq that are building explosive devices of a very high quality that are being used to kill their soldiers.”

President Bush “made very clear that that's unacceptable,” and the decision to raid an Iranian office in Irbil, Iraq, January 11, and send additional naval forces to the Gulf is “a reaction to Iranian policies that escalated some time ago,” such as “the attacks on our forces, the nature of those attacks, and the lethality of those attacks,” Rice said.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Tony Snow said President Bush’s call to defend American forces in Iraq was not a preparation “for war with either country.”

“What the President was talking about is defending American forces within Iraq and also doing what we can to disrupt networks that might be trying to convey weapons or fighters into battle theaters within Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis,” Snow said.

The United States is using diplomatic means, such as the United Nations Security Council, to address its concerns with Iran, Snow said.  “So this is something that is very important to push back, because I know there's been a lot of speculation about it.  Let me just try to put that to rest once and for all.”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also addressed questions over the operation in Irbil, which detained individuals who had been identified in Iranian media as being diplomats operating out of an Iranian “consulate.”

“The individuals who were detained were not carrying diplomatic passports.  They had regular passports.  And this was not a consulate.  This was not an officially accredited diplomatic facility,” McCormack said.  The building they were using “had no official diplomatic status,” he said.

A transcript of Rice’s remarks is available on the State Department Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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