About Time: U.S. Confronts Iran
BARDA, Iraq -- The Pentagon is preparing to build its first base for U.S. forces near the Iraqi-Iranian border, in a major new effort to curb the flow of advanced Iranian weaponry to Shiite militants across Iraq.In his Congressional testimony today, Gen. Petraeus is expected to address Iran's expansionist role in the region, especially its work with Shi'ia militia intent on destabilizing the Iraqi government.
The push also includes construction of fortified checkpoints on the major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad and the installation of X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the only formal border crossing between Iran and Iraq. ...
Iran denies supplying weapons to Iraqi militants, but the accusation is at the center of escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran that have sparked talk of a possible American military strike on Iran.
"We've got a major problem with Iranian munitions streaming into Iraq," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. "This Iranian interference is troubling and we have to stop it."
He said 48 advanced roadside bombs -- a type the U.S. says are made in the region only in Iran -- have been used against his forces in central and southern Iraq, killing nine American soldiers. Gen. Lynch also said the U.S. stopped a planned attack on an American base that would have made use of 46 Iranian-made rockets.
U.S. officials acknowledge the difficulty of stemming the flow of weapons across a border that is unfenced and thinly patrolled in many parts. But they hope that forcing smugglers off the main roads will make it easier to spot the militants through aerial surveillance. (WSJ)
The proposed base at Barda puts some oomph behind his words.
photo: New York Times