Iran 'Unhelpful' in Terror War, Pakistan Remains Supportive
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2004 Iran is proving to be "a big problem" in the war on terror, not only because it is aiding al Qaeda and Taliban extremists, but also because it's developing long-range weapons, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a Dec. 2 television interview.
Rumsfeld told Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel that the Iranian government has been "unhelpful," harboring al Qaeda and working to influence events "in a way that favors people that are friendly to them."
Compounding the problem, he said, is the fact that the Iraq-Iran border is "porous," enabling people to move freely between the two countries. "And where there is a checkpoint, bribery works in that part of the world," Rumsfeld said.
"The Iranians are making a lot of mistakes," the secretary said. "They're notably unhelpful in Afghanistan, and they're notably unhelpful in Iraq."
Rumsfeld said the United States is working with its European allies and the United Nations to get the International Atomic Energy Agency to "put pressure on the Iranians to behave differently with respect to their nuclear programs."
As these diplomatic efforts continue, Rumsfeld said, "it's up to the countries of the United Nations to decide what kind of steps they may or may not want to take."
While condemning Iran, the secretary praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his country's continued support in the terror war.
He dismissed reports that the Pakistani army has given up the hunt for Osama bin Laden as unfounded. "What I have been advised is that they fully intend to continue putting pressure on the Taliban and al Qaeda," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary said Musharraf "has done an outstanding job of managing a very difficult situation" in Pakistan. "We're so fortunate to have a courageous leader in that nation," he said, especially in light of pressure from extremists and several assassination attempts against him.
In addition, Rumsfeld said, Musharraf has put the Pakistani army into tribal areas where they have never operated before to put pressure on the Taliban and al Qaeda. That's been very helpful, because American forces have been working the other side of the border in Afghanistan, he added.
"Now, will (Musharraf) continue (this support)? We're told yes, he will," Rumsfeld said.