Is Iran supplying weapons to the Taliban?
Coalition forces in Afghanistan have intercepted Iranian weapons crossing the border, but Iran denies supplying their longtime enemy.
The discovery of Iranian-made weaponry in Afghanistan has led US and British officials to accuse Iran of arming the Taliban militias now battling US and coalition forces. The find raises new and troubling questions about the state of American-Iranian relations.
CNN reported that the weapons, which were seized by coalition forces as they were smuggled across the Iranian-Afghan border, include types that have been used effectively against US troops in Iraq.
Coalition officials in Afghanistan said they have intercepted Iranian-made AK-47s, C-4 plastic explosives and mortars. One explosively-formed penetrator bomb (EFP) that was found can pierce American armor, a NATO official said.
The EFP is similar to the weaponry the United States says Iran has provided to militants in Iraq, but the NATO official said the weapon has not been traced directly to the Iranian regime.
Iranian officials have denied the allegations, while outside experts speculate that Iranian splinter groups are more likely candidates than the Iranian government. Dealing arms to the Taliban would be a step outside the norm for Iran. In 1998, Iran nearly went to war with Afghanistan, then controlled by the Taliban regime, after it killed eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist. Additionally, the Taliban, a Sunni organization, has traditionally avoided dealing with Shiites. Iran is a predominately Shiite nation and seeks support mostly from other Shiites. [Editor's note: The original version misidentified the sect from which Iran seeks support.]
Since America's 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Iran has played an active role in thwarting the Taliban, reportsMcClatchy.