Iranian arms for Taliban seized
( Theage ) NATO troops deployed in Afghanistan have intercepted an Iranian arms shipment destined for the Taliban in what appears to be an escalating flow of weaponry between the two former enemies.
The shipment was intercepted on September 6, according to officials from countries in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
It included armour -piercing bombs known as explosively formed projectiles, which have been especially deadly when used as roadside bombs against foreign troops in Iraq.
The NATO-led force interdicted two smaller shipments of similar weapons from Iran into southern Helmand province on April 11 and May 3.
This time, the arms were shipped into the western province of Farah , a vast but sparsely populated area, indicating an attempt to find routes less likely to be discovered.
"They're clearly trying to vary their routes and not get caught," a US official said.
A senior Iranian official called the allegation baseless. "We have no interest in instability in Iraq or Afghanistan," the official said. "Why should we send weapons to the opposition?"
Iran has long opposed the Taliban. But their co-operation is based on common opposition to foreign troops in Afghanistan, according to officials in the international force.
"They're playing with the enemy," an official from one of the participating countries said. "They have no love lost for the Taliban. The Taliban killed several Iranian diplomats. We believe it's about hurting the Americans and the international community."
The explosively formed projectiles can also cause psychological and political damage because the loss of two or three troops for some of the three dozen countries in the force could lead them to reconsider their commitment, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported that Pentagon planners had developed a list of up to 2000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran's nuclear weapons program are doomed to fail. Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe the White House has begun a carefully calibrated program of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.