Rice confronted over Iran evidence


Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has been confronted in congress
over the US administration's failure to provide firm evidence for Iran's
alleged nuclear weapons development.

Ron Paul, a Republican congressman, said: "Unproven charges against Iran's
nuclear intentions are eerily reminiscent of the false charges made against

Paul said "unproven accusations of Iranian support for the Iraqi insurgency"
were also serving as a pretext for "escalating our sharp rhetoric towards

"Pressed for proof of dramatic claims of Iranian involvement in Iraq, the
administration keeps promising that they are compiling it."

'Echoes of Iraq'

Paul was speaking as Rice presented the US state department's annual budget
request to the congressional foreign affairs committee on Capitol Hill in
Washington on Wednesday.

He said: "This sounds like Iraq, where accusations came first and proof was
supposed to come later - only that proof never came because the accusations
turned out to be false."

Paul referred to discredited allegations that Saddam Hussein's government
was building weapons of mass destruction.

US officials have promised to make public what Sean McCormack, a state
department spokesman, described as a "mountain of evidence" to back up
allegations about Iranian involvement in attacks on US and allied forces in

No such evidence has yet been put forward by the administration.

'No Iran attack plan'

Rejecting Paul's suggestions, Rice said: "We are not planning or intending
an attack on Iran.

"What we are doing is responding to a number of Iranian policies both in
Iran and around the world that are actually quite dangerous for our national

Rice also said that Iranian support for "terrorism" was "well known and
well-understood", referring to Hezbollah in Lebanon and sectarian death
squads in Iraq.

She said British forces in Iraq had also linked Iran to attacks on allied
forces in the country, notably with sophisticated bombs able to penetrate
armoured vehicles.

'No hurry'

Rice said: "I don't think any government in the world would stand by and not
react to that."

McCormack rejected suggestions the administration had yet to reveal its
proof of Iranian involvement in Iraq because the evidence was not strong
enough to convince sceptics.

"We're going to do this on our own timeline," he said.

"There are always going to be doubters, critics, sceptics ... That's fine,
we accept that."

"It's not going to influence us into hurrying through something that we
don't think is ready or appropriate."