Is a decrease in Iraqi IED attacks an indication of Iranian progress in developing a nuclear weapon? The last thing that I would do if I were an Iranian leader intent on procuring nuclear weapons is to portray a bellicose profile to the West. The most obvious first step would be to rein in those that were trafficking in EFP's in Iraq.
There is little benefit to Iran in supplying weapons to Iraq. The war in Iraq is obviously unpopular and will end through political changes in the US. If Iran can succeed in appearing "responsible and helpful", there will be a lessening of diplomatic and economic pressure put upon her. After all, there are other nuclear powers who are acceptable to the World.
A sane and reasonable appearing Iran has a better chance of getting and keeping nuclear weapons than a bunch of crazed mullahs. A declining Iranian support for Iraqi violence may not be as benign as it seems.
Drop in Iran-related attacks in Iraq a puzzle
17 November 2007
WASHINGTON - Even as President George W. Bush pressed Iran on its nuclear program on Friday, US officials said the US military was puzzling over the meaning of a sharp drop in Iranian-related attacks in Iraq.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates and other senior Defence officials have said it is too soon to judge the significance of the three-month decline in the use of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) and other Iranian made weapons.
But a deputy corps commander in Iraq, Major General James Simmons, said Thursday that Iran appears to be living up to a commitment to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to stop the flow of the weapons into the country.
Senior Defence officials in Washington suggested that Simmons’ conclusion was overstated, but said there was little doubt that the flow of weapons from Iran to Iraq has slowed or stopped.
Armor-piercing EFPs have turned up in recently captured weapons caches in Iraq, but those are believed to pre-date a pledge Iranian leaders made to Maliki during a visit to Tehran in August, officials have said.
Attacks involving EFP’s dropped from 99 in July to 53 in October.
What remains unclear is whether the Iranians decided to stop the flow of weapons, and if so why, and whether it points to a broader change in direction by Tehran or just a temporary respite.
“We’re not there yet,” a senior US Defence official said, explaining that more time was needed to assess the development and its implications.
“We certainly hope that the Iranians have decided to fulfill their commitments to the Maliki government,” the official added.
The developments in Iraq come as the Bush administration is trying to ratchet up international pressure on Iran on the nuclear front.
At a White House meeting Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Bush said international pressure “must, and will, grow” on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program.
“The prime minister and I agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten the security of the Middle East and beyond. Our two nations are united in our efforts to change the regime’s behaviour through diplomacy,” Bush said.
Senior Defence officials said the nuclear issue is the administration’s primary concern.
But a turnaround on Iraq by Tehran would be a major break for the US military, which is banking on a sustained reduction of violence in Iraq to undertake a phased drawdown of US forces.
Wary that it might be too good to be true, US officials point to what they say is Iran’s record of arming and training “special groups” of Shiite extremists that have killed US forces.
“That they have had a negative influence in the past, that they have assisted in the killing of coalition, Iraqi and American soldiers is a matter of fact,” said a senior US military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.