Iran, U.S. spar over Saudi bombing, terrorism
August 4, 1996
Web posted at: 3:15 p.m. EDT (1915 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The fallout continued Sunday from U.S.
Defense Secretary William Perry's speculation that Iran may
have been behind the June 25 truck bombing that killed 19
U.S. airmen in Saudi Arabia.
Perry said during an interview Friday with National Public
Radio that he anticipated the Saudi probe into the bombing
would uncover an international link, and that Iran was the
"leading candidate" among countries that would commit
terrorist acts against the U.S.
Iran reacted sharply, calling Perry's statements
"After each of these incidents, with great deal of certainty,
fingers are pointed at Iran," Iranian Deputy Foreign
Minister Javad Zarif said on CNN. "After a while it turns out
those fingers were pointed for political reasons and for
political reasons only."
Iran sent a letter to the United Nations Sunday protesting
statements by Perry and House Speaker Newt Gingrich
threatening retaliations should another country be found to
have connections to the bombing of the Khobar Towers military
housing unit. The threats, the letter said, were "an arrogant
and callous disregard" for the principles of international
law. (381K AIFF or WAV sound)
Gingrich continued to lean on Iran on Sunday, telling CNN
that "international terrorism is almost entirely subsidized
"If it turns out that they killed Americans, whether they are
in uniform or out of uniform, whether they are in a airliner
or they are in a military base, that would normally be
regarded as an act of war," Gingrich said.(445K AIFF or WAV sound)
Iran "categorically rejects" terrorism, Zarif said. But the
minister did acknowledge that Iran considers the U.S.
presence in the Persian Gulf "destabilizing." (445K AIFF or WAV sound)
Zarif said the policy of first blaming Iran for terrorist
acts delayed the fight against the real terrorists, and
he called for "serious international cooperation" to combat
terrorism. Zarif denied that Iran had any part in the June
truck bombing or "any other terrorist incident." (445K AIFF or WAV sound)
But USA Today reported Saturday that U.S. intelligence had
gathered evidence of a network of 11 terrorist training camps
inside Iran, including a bomb training site in eastern
Tehran. Gingrich told CNN Sunday that such training centers
should be made "untenable."
"Ideally we would go to the United Nations, present the
evidence that these are terrorist camps, insist that there be
international inspectors to close down the camps," Gingrich
said. And if that doesn't work, "there are a number of
military means capable for closing them down."
Iranian officials denied that the camps exist, saying that
reports of such camp are "propaganda" first put forward by
"This is a propaganda campaign by the same people willing to
bet Iran was behind every terrorist incident in the world,"
Reuters contributed to this report.
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