Monday, February 26, 2007

IRAN: "American officials" sticking to their story

The neocons are determined to go to war with Iran by hook or by crook. Mostly by crook. They must realize now that the "threat" of Iranian nukes is too similar a plot line to the way they sold the Iraq war and that it's well-documented by our own intelligence agencies that Iran is a long way off from having a nuclear weapon.

So they seem to have decided that since they can't pin a high-tech crime on Iran, they'll keep trying to pin a low-tech one on them--which in this case is that ONLY Iranians can machine copper discs and wire infrared sensors. This despite the fact that a Major Weber admits in this New York Times story that the infrared sensors are readily available at electronics stores:

Every P.I.R. in Iraq has been RadioShack, Digigard or Everspring,” Major Weber said. “But in southern Lebanon I never saw them use RadioShack.”

And John Pike of puts the lie to the idea that the copper discs can be produced nowhere but in Iran:

Mr. Pike said he was not swayed by arguments that the copper discs could only be made by equipment in Iran. All that is required are machine tools, he said. “You can buy them,” he said. “I mean, look at all those cylinders people use for L.P.G. cooking gas. Do you think they are all imported from Iran? Probably not. I bet there are guys all over Iraq who make those things for a living.”

Major Weber also tips his hand as to the provenance of these EFPs:

Could copper discs be manufactured with the required precision in Iraq? “You can never be certain,” Major Weber said. But he said that “having studied all these groups, I’ve only seen E.F.P.’s used in two areas of the world: The Levant and here,” meaning in Hezbollah areas of Lebanon and in Iraq. Hezbollah is thought to be armed and trained by Iran.

Hmmm...he's seen EFPs in Lebanon, where our ally Israel recently fought. Any chance that some (if not all) of these supposed Iranian weapons were found by Israel in Lebanon instead of Iraq and then either planted in Iraq or just claimed to be found in Iraq? This is what Neo at Entropic Memes has suggested, and it seems quite plausible to me. Quite...


Mark Konrad said...

You have an excellent site. I found it by accident when doing some research on the so-called "Iranian weapons" that are supposedly being discovered in Iraq. I've been writing letters to the establishment media celebrities for over six months making the same point you're making here, and that is: Okay, U.S. government and military, you keep accusing the Iranians of arming the Iraqis. Let's see some definitive proof of that. Not suggestion, not innuendo, not regurgitated Pentagon press releases that essentially say "take our word for it" -- let's see some PROOF of Iranian weaponry and let's see some proof it was captured in Iraq and let's see some proof it was shipped directly from Iran to Iraq. (Iranian weapons are openly available on the world's arms market of course and can be bought by anyone who has the cash and the shipping/receiving capabilities.)

Your research and sources are quite good. Permit me to add Gareth Porter's excellent piece as well as another few bits of interesting information such as web addresses for the design drawings and specifications for IEDs, EFPs and remote detonators. All of that is freely available on the internet. From American websites. Most of the information has been online since BEFORE the latest invasion of Iraq. Refs below. Thanks for your great work and

Best Regards,

Mark Konrad
Las Vegas, NV

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Debunking the Neocons' Iran War Measure

By Gareth Porter

Posted September 27, 2007

The Lieberman-Kyl Amendment is aluminum tubes all over again.

....The following six points summarize some -- but certainly not all -- of the evidence contradicting the line on which the poisonous Liberman-Kyl amendment is based.

The administration has not come forward with a single piece of concrete evidence to support the claim that the Iranian government has been involved in the training, arming or advising of Iraqi Shiite militias.

At the February 11, 2007 briefing, officials displayed one EFP and some fragments but did not claim that there was any forensic evidence linking that or any other AFP to Iran.

One of the briefers admitted that it was only Iraqi smugglers who brought weapons into Iraq, explaining why no direct Iranian involvement could be documented.

The official briefer who was a specialist on explosives, Maj. Marty Weber, claimed in a later interview that the use of "passive infrared sensors" in the deployment of EFPs in Iraq was "one of the strongest markers of Iranian involvement" in the traffic. But he admitted in the same interview that the electronic components needed to make the sensors found in Iraq were "easily available off the shelf at places like Radio Shack."

Another official who participated in the briefing, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, denied that the military was claiming that Iran was behind the traffic in arms to Iraq. He said in a follow-up press briefing on February 14, "What we are saying is that within Iran, that these EFP component parts are being manufactured. Within Iran weapons and munitions are being manufactured that are ending up in Iraq. And we are asking the Iranian government to assist in stopping that from happening.
There's no intent to do anything other than that."

Although one of the official briefers said shipments of EFPs had been intercepted at the border in 2005, only one press report about such a border interceptions has appeared, and there was no indication that such interceptions had produced any evidence of Iranian involvement. On the contrary, it quoted "coalition officials" as saying there was "no evidence to suggest that the government in Tehran is facilitating the smuggling of shape charges into Iraq." Despite that alleged interception,
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita and Brig Gen. Carter Ham, deputy director for regional operations for the Joint Staff, continued to deny any knowledge of official Iranian complicity in EFP or any other arm supplies.

Despite interrogations since last spring of a top official of an alleged Iraqi EFP network and the Hezbollah operative who was a liaison with the organization, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the U.S. Commander for southern Iraq, where most of the Shiite militias operate, admitted in a July 6 briefing that his troops had not captured "anybody that we can tie to Iran."

On September 8, the commander for the northern region of Iraq, Maj. Gen. Thomas Turner II, admitted in a press briefing, "I don't think we have any specific proof of Iranians in our area other than reports. We have discovered caches.It has not been a lot. We have seen some evidence of some weapons that were employed against coalition forces that were made in Iran, where they are coming from across the border, we're not sure."

Despite the assertion by Gen. David Petraeus on September 12, quoted in the proposed Lieberman-Kyle amendment, that the U.S. military obtained evidence of the complicity of Iranian officials in arming and training Shiite militias from interrogations of the above detainees, it has not produced wither detainee or any transcript of the interrogations. Nor has it released a direct quote from either detainee. No apparent intelligence reason exists for withholding such evidence from Congress and the

Despite Petraeus' assertion in September that the United States obtained "hard evidence" incriminating Iran from computer hard drives seized when the above detainees were captured March 22, none of the documentation has been made public, nor have any specifics have been provided on what the files show. Earlier both Petraeus and Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner had discussed the contents of the 22-page memorandum as detailing the planning preparation, approval and conduct of military operations by the Shiite militia organization but without claiming that it showed any Iranian role in any of those activities.

The U.S. intelligence community has not endorsed the argument being made by some in the Bush administration that the Iranian government was responsible for the rise in Shiite military activity in Iraq.

The National Intelligence Estimate, a brief summary of which was released to the public February 2 contradicted the official argument, stating, "Iraq's neighbors influence, and are influenced by, events within Iraq, but the involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq's internal sectarian dynamics."

Instead of stating clearly that Iran had provided weapons or training to Shiite militias, the NIE offered a more ambiguous formula that "Iranian lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq." That formula, according to veterans of the NIE process, probably represents a negotiated compromise, indicating that some agencies refused to endorse the claim that Iran was supply weapons to Iraqi Shiites.

The main argument made in the February 11, 2007 briefing for an Iranian official role in providing EFPs to Shiite militias -- the allegation that only Iran had the capability to manufacture EFPs or components for EFPs that can penetrate U.S. armor -- was quickly proven to be untrue.

As early as mid-2005, U.S. military intelligence officials had already concluding that they believe the technology for making such armor-penetrating bombs was "spreading among a variety of insurgent groups," obviously including Sunni insurgents with no ties to Iran or Hezbollah. At least one insurgent cell in Baghdad was already "attempting to make the charges locally."

Israeli intelligence reported that Hamas guerrillas manufactured high grade EFPs during 2006 which were used in attacks on Israeli Defense Forces in four separate incidents in September and November 2006. The shaped charges penetrated eight inches of steel armor.

Senior military officials in Baghdad told a reporter days after the February 11 briefing that U.S. forces had been finding an "increasing number of advanced roadside bombs being not just assembled but manufactured in machine shops." One official was quoted as saying that the impact of those Iraqi-machined EFPs on armored vehicles "isn't as clean but they are almost as effective" as the EFPs being imported.

Journalist Andrew Cockburn reported in February that in November 2006 U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop had discovered a pile of copper discs "stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order."


Maj. Marty Weber, the explosives expert who was one of the three briefers in the February 11 briefing, admitted in an interview with The New York Times less than two weeks later that "You can never be certain" that the copper discs for the EFPs could not be manufactured with the required precision in Iraq.

U.S. troops found a cache of components, including concave copper discs, for making EFPs in February 2007, in which the PVC tubes of varying widths appeared to have come from the open market, raising the likelihood that the liners were being manufactured locally so that they would be the right size to fit the discs.

Another bomb-making factory discovered by U.S. troops in late February was reported to have forced U.S. officials to "reassess their belief that such bombs were being built in Iran and smuggled fully assembled into Iraq."

U.S. and British Military officers and civilian officials have expressed doubt that EFPs and other armaments in the hands of Shiites have actually come from Iran or that Iranian Quds force personnel have been involved in the supply.

British Defence Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in August 2006, "I have not seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated armed support on Iran's part in Iraq."

Lt. Col. David Labouchere, commander of a few hundred British troops which began in late August 2006 to search the Iran-Iraq border for evidence of Iranian supply of weapons to Iraqi Shiites, said in October, "I suspect there's nothing out there. And I intend to prove it."

"[S]ome military analysts have concluded there is no concrete evidence of a link" between the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Shiite militias fighting U.S. troops, according to a Washington Post report published August 20, 2007.

The Quds Force of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the administration has claimed is the instrument of the alleged Iranian "proxy war" in Iraq, has apparently been withdrawn from Iraq.

In the same testimony to the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees on September 11 in which he stated the proxy war argument, Gen. David Petraeus also said, "[T]he Qods Force itself -- we believe, by [and] large, those individuals have been pulled out of the country, as have the Lebanese Hezbollah trainers that were being used to augment that activity.

There is a substantial body of evidence that the Hezbollah in Lebanon -- not Iran -- has been the main source, if not the only source, of EFPs and other weapon used by Shiite militias in 2006 and 2007.

Hezbollah was using EFPs to attack Israel Defense Forces armored vehicles as early as 1997 and provided EFP expertise to Palestinian militant groups after the start of the Intifada in 2000 (Michael Knights, Jane's Intelligence Review).

Iraqi and Lebanese officials told a reporter in mid-2005 that Iraqi Shiite fighters had begun in early 2005 "copying Hezbollah's techniques in building roadside bombs and carrying out sophisticated ambushes." Those Hezbollah techniques included "shaped charges" (later renamed explosively formed penetrators by U.S. officials), according to those same officials.

Hezbollah's CD-Rom instructional videos were captured in Iraq rather than Iran's, according to Michael Knights.

All of the weapons systems captured in Iraq that are alleged to have been provided by Iran, including EFPs and 240 mm rockets, have been in the Hezbollah arsenal, as indicated by many sources on the weapons used by Hezbollah against Israel.

One of those weapons systems, the RPG-29, which was used by Shiite militias against an American M-1 tank, is not manufactured by Iran and is known to have been acquired by Hezbollah from Syria rather than from Iran.

There was reportedly intelligence in 2006 that Iran shipped machine tools to Lebanon that could be used to make EFPs.


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22 August 2007

[U.S] Intelligence officials have long blamed Iran for supplying EFP parts, but this remains in doubt. In any case, as 'Janes' reports, even if the original technology came from Iran,

... the knowledge required to manufacture and use EFPs may have become so widespread that Iranian assistance is no longer required.


At least two EFP factories have since been found in Iraq, facilities which produced the thin copper 'lenses' for EFPs. The picture suggests that one man with a lathe can turn out enough to keep the insurgency supplied at the current rate. Several lathes would mean a lot more EFPs; at the current rate each one of those stacks of five or six copper lenses represents one potential death.


06 April 2007

A U.S. military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl....said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory [in or near Diwaniya, Diwaniya Province, Iraq] that produced "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

Ref: Here

Generic quote from u.s. govt sources and the establishment media:

"The Bush administration has accused Iran of providing the [EFP] technology to Shiite insurgents in Iraq."

* OR, on the other hand the Shiites and anyone else in the world who wanted the information got it from American internet websites: *

Segmented kinetic energy explosively formed penetrator assembly

[Published 28 January 2003]

Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) and Fragmenting Warhead

[Published 25 September 2003]

[16,586 additional documents]

Remote detonation of explosive charges

[Published 05 December 1989]

[3,368 additional documents]

Mark Konrad said...

Explosive charge blows up in US's face

By Gareth Porter

Oct 27, 2007

WASHINGTON - When the United States military command accused the Iranian Quds Force in January of providing the armor-piercing EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that were killing US troops, it knew that Iraqi machine shops had been producing their own EFPs for years, a review of the historical record of evidence on EFPs in Iraq shows.

The record also shows that the US command had considerable evidence that the Mahdi Army of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had received the technology and the training on how to use it from Hezbollah, rather than Iran.

The command, operating under close White House supervision, chose to deny these facts in making the dramatic accusation that became the main rationale for the present aggressive US stance toward Iran. Although the George W Bush administration initially limited the accusation to the Quds Force, it has recently begun to assert that top officials of the Iranian regime are responsible for arms that are killing US troops.

British and US officials observed from the beginning that the EFPs being used in Iraq closely resembled the ones used by Hezbollah against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, both in their design and the techniques for using them.

Hezbollah was known as the world's most knowledgeable specialists in EFP manufacture and use, having perfected this during the 1990s in the military struggle with Israeli forces in Lebanon. It was widely recognized that it was Hezbollah that had passed on the expertise to Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups after the second Intifada began in 2000.

US intelligence also knew that Hezbollah was conducting the training of Mahdi Army militants on EFPs. In August 2005, Newsday published a report from correspondent Mohammed Bazzi that Shi'ite fighters had begun in early 2005 to copy Hezbollah techniques for building the bombs, as well as for carrying out roadside ambushes, citing both Iraqi and Lebanese officials.

In late November 2006, a senior intelligence official told both CNN and the New York Times that Hezbollah troops had trained as many as 2,000 Mahdi Army fighters in Lebanon.

The fact that the Mahdi Army's major military connection has always been with Hezbollah rather than Iran would also explain the presence in Iraq of the PRG-29, a shoulder-fired anti-armor weapon. Although US military briefers identified it last February as being Iranian-made, the RPG-29 is not manufactured by Iran but by the Russian Federation.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, RPG-29s were imported from Russia by Syria, then passed on to Hezbollah, which used them with devastating effectiveness against Israeli forces in the 2006 war. According to a June 2004 report on the well-informed military website, RPG-29s were already turning up in Iraq, "apparently smuggled across the Syrian border".

The earliest EFPs appearing in Iraq in 2004 were so professionally made that they were probably constructed by Hezbollah specialists, according to a detailed account by British expert Michael Knights in Jane's Intelligence Review last year.

By late 2005, however, the British command had already found clear evidence that the Iraqi Shi'ites themselves were manufacturing their own EFPs. British Army Major General J B Dutton told reporters in November 2005 that the bombs were of varying degrees of sophistication.

Some of the EFPs required a "reasonably sophisticated factory", he said, while others required only a simple workshop, which he observed, could only mean that some of them were being made inside Iraq.

After British convoys in Maysan province were attacked by a series of EFP bombings in late May 2006, Knights recounts, British forces discovered a factory making them in Majar al-Kabir north of Basra in June.

In addition, the US military also had its own forensic evidence by the autumn of 2006 that EFPs used against its vehicles had been manufactured in Iraq, according to Knights. He cites photographic evidence of EFP strikes on US armored vehicles that "typically shows a mixture of clean penetrations from fully-formed EFP and spattering ..." That pattern reflected the fact that the locally made EFPs were imperfect, some of them forming the required shape to penetrate but some of them failing to do so.

Then US troops began finding EFP factories. Journalist Andrew Cockburn reported in the Los Angeles Times in mid-February that US troops had raided a Baghdad machine shop in November 2006 and discovered "a pile of copper discs, five inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order".

In a report on February 23, NBC Baghdad correspondent Jane Arraf quoted "senior military officials" as saying that US forces had "been finding an increasing number of the advanced roadside bombs being not just assembled but manufactured in machine shops here".

Nevertheless, the Bush administration decided to put the blame for the EFPs squarely on the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, after Bush agreed in autumn 2006 to target the Quds Force within Iran to make Iranian leaders feel vulnerable to US power. The allegedly exclusive Iranian manufacture of EFPs was the administration's only argument for holding the Quds Force responsible for their use against US forces.

At the February 11 military briefing presenting the case for this claim, one of the US military officials declared, "The explosive charges used by Iranian agents in Iraq need a special manufacturing process, which is available only in Iran." The briefer insisted that there was no evidence that they were being made in Iraq.

That lynchpin of the administration's EFP narrative began to break down almost immediately, however. On February 23, NBC's Arraf confronted Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, who had been out in front in January promoting the new Iranian EFP line, with the information she had obtained from other senior military officials that an increasing number of machine shops manufacturing EFPs had been discovered by US troops.

Odierno began to walk the Iranian EFP story back. He said the EFPs had "started to come from Iran", but he admitted "some of the technologies" were "probably being constructed here".

The following day, US troops found yet another EFP factory near Baqubah, with copper discs that appeared to be made with a high degree of precision, but which could not be said with any certainty to have originated in Iran.

The explosive expert who claimed at the February briefing that EFPs could only be made in Iran was then made available to the New York Times to explain away the new find. Major Marty Weber now backed down from his earlier statement and admitted that there were "copy cat" EFPs being machined in Iraq that looked identical to those allegedly made in Iran to the untrained eye.

Weber insisted that such Iraqi-made EFPs had slight imperfections which made them "much less likely to pierce armor". But NBC's Arraf had reported the previous week that a senor military official had confirmed to her that the EFPs made in Iraqi shops were indeed quite able to penetrate US armor. The impact of those weapons "isn't as clean", the official said, but they are "almost as effective" as the best-made EFPs.

The idea that only Iranian EFPs penetrate armor would be a surprise to Israeli intelligence, which has reported that EFPs manufactured by Hamas guerrillas in their own machine shops during 2006 had penetrated eight inches of Israeli steel armor in four separate incidents in September and November, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Center in Tel Aviv.

The Arraf story was ignored by the news media, and the Bush administration has continued to assert the Iranian EFP charge as though it had never been questioned.

It soon became such an accepted part of the media narrative on Iran and Iraq that the only issue about which reporters bother to ask questions is whether the top leaders of the Iranian government have approved the alleged Quds Force operation.

* * *

Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in June 2005.