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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

07 March 2007

United States Might Raise Concerns with Iran About Explosives

Security likely will be focus of agenda for March 10 meeting in Iraq

Washington -- U.S. delegates slated to attend a March 10 meeting in Baghdad, Iraq, on the future of Iraq might raise concerns with the Iranian delegation over Iran’s support and supply of groups and networks using explosive devices against U.S. and coalition forces.

Although the focus of the meeting is Iraq and its agenda will be set by the Iraqi government, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said March 7, “If we have an opportunity to raise the issue of EFPs [explosively formed projectiles] and Iran's support for those networks and supply of those networks with the technology and know-how to construct these EFPs, you bet we're going to raise it.”

McCormack was referring to a type of incendiary explosive device (IED) that is especially lethal due to its advanced technology and techniques, especially against various types of armor used by U.S. forces.  (See related article.)

He said the topic “gets to an issue of force protection for our troops,” and the United States will take “every possible opportunity” to protect its soldiers.  “And if that means having a discussion with the Iranian representative in the context of this meeting, yeah, we're going to take that opportunity.”

However, because the focus of the meeting is on Iraq, he added that any exchange between the U.S. and Iranian delegation on Iraqi security matters would be “incidental.”

The Baghdad meeting will bring Iraqi officials together with representatives of Iraq’s immediate neighbors, other regional states, multilateral organizations and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.  (See related article.)

The United States will be represented by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Ambassador David Satterfield, the State Department’s senior adviser on Iraq.

McCormack said he expects that the meeting will have a “heavy focus on security,” and possibly a presentation on the Iraqi government’s security plan for Baghdad.

He added that there could be “a discussion about those security issues that require discussion among neighbors: controlling borders; security for transmission of electricity, fuel oil and other such commodities.”

The spokesman urged all parties to participate fully and to listen to the Iraqi government’s security plans, as well as to discuss “commitments they might make that could help reassure this Iraqi government that they do have friends in the region that are concerned about their future, [and] that will help the Iraqis understand that they do have a place in the region.”

At the same time, McCormack said, the United States hopes that by explaining its security operations and other initiatives such as economic and political reform, Iraq will offer its neighbors “some degree of assurance as to what their plans are.”

Iraqi officials also have proposed a follow-up meeting at the ministerial level to be held during the first half of April.

McCormack said the meetings potentially could have “an interplay” with the International Compact for Iraq, the five-year international plan set up in 2006 that is designed to help fund Iraq’s reconstruction, political and economic reforms.  (See related article.)

The compact is “a totally separate effort,” but he said that if the neighbors’ meetings encourage “a degree of mutual reassurance and understanding,” they could reinforce the compact, which he said is “a much more focused dialogue on Iraqi reconstruction and economic reform” as well as what its members “might do to help out Iraq on those issues.”

For more information, see Iraq Update.

(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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