Sunday, May 29, 2005

Iran 'most important' sponsor of terrorism: Rice
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has described Iran as "probably the most important state sponsor of terrorists" and said it is in that context that its quest for nuclear weapons attracts unfavorable attention from the US.

"It is also Iranian behavior on other fronts. We're talking about a country that does have abominable human rights record, we're talking about a country where an un-elected few continue to suppress the desires of its people for democratic elections, most recently, with the Guardian Council deciding who can run for president and who can't run for president," Rice said during a speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. READ MORE

"And this is a country - and we really want to underscore this - that is out of step in terms of its support for terrorists
," she said

"The Iranians are probably the most important state sponsor of terrorists, including the terrorists who are doing their best to frustrate the hopes of the Palestinian people for a state."

She said Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas came to power in an election where he won 62 percent of the vote by saying the armed Intifada has to end.

"He's trying to face down terrorist organisations that the Iranians are funding. So the Iranians are very much out of step with the international system. And so to have a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians would be a very, very dangerous thing. So we're going to do everything that we can to prevent that outcome," she said.

In the context of nuclear proliferation and Pakistan, Rice said: "We have been very fortunate and I think it's a great success of our intelligence agencies that the A.Q. Khan network was brought down. The A.Q. Khan network, a Pakistani scientist who was one of the fathers of the Pakistani nuclear programme whose network across the globe was selling - just selling - the technologies, almost turnkey kits, on how to build the technologies for nuclear weapons.

"And that A.Q. Khan is under house arrest in Pakistan. His network, many of them are being prosecuted. That's a very big step forward because that kind of black market activity is particularly dangerous," she said.