Russia: No proof that Iran backs terrorism
by Joel Gehrke
Source: Washington Examiner
Western powers “do not have proof” that Iran supports terrorism, according to Russia’s top diplomat.
“We do not have proof that, for example, Iran is a state that sponsors terrorism,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations General Assembly.
Lavrov made that comment while defending his country’s partnership with Iran to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in the ongoing civil war, despite U.S. and Israeli demands that Iran withdraw from Syria. And he suggested that Western efforts to country Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East are unrealistic.
“So, it seems that in order to stabilize all these countries — Yemen, Syria, and Iraq — you have to achieve for the Iranian positions to be weakened, and even better, to be eliminated, so that there will be no Iranian influence there,” Lavrov said. “I don’t think that you can lock it in a cage within its borders.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants to thwart Iran’s ability to project power throughout Syria and other countries.
“I’m talking about units and formations and command structure and Quds force officers freely passing through the country, fomenting and underwriting importantly with financial assistance terror operations and forces in support of the Syrian regime,” Pompeo said in June during a Senate subcommittee hearing.
Lavrov’s comments Friday coincided with Pompeo’s decision to close a U.S. diplomatic mission in Iraq due to threats from Iran and Iranian-backed forces. The U.S. consulate in Basra has been threatened repeatedly in the weeks since protesters angry about Iran’s influence in the country set fire to an Iranian diplomatic office in the city.
“I have advised the Government of Iran that the United States will hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to Americans or to our diplomatic facilities in Iraq or elsewhere and whether perpetrated by Iranian forces directly or by associated proxy militias,” Pompeo said Friday afternoon.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited Iranian-backed terror operations while rebuking European leaders for trying to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“Europe and others are appeasing Iran by trying to help it bypass those new sanctions,” Netanyahu said during his United Nations General Assembly address on Thursday. “Think about this: The same week Iran was caught red-handed trying to murder European citizens, European leaders were rolling out the red carpet for President Rouhani, promising to give Iran even more money.”
But Lavrov defended Iran from charges of being a state sponsor of terrorism.
“We have never seen a terrorist threat in Iran,” he told reporters. “There is not such a term in the international law or in the UN documents. yes the U.S. and other states have introduced this term.”