Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Warns of Retaliation Perry Hints Iran Had Role in Dhahran Attack

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Warns of Retaliation Perry Hints Iran Had Role in Dhahran Attack

Article excerpt

Defense Secretary William Perry warned Friday of "strong action" against any nation linked to the bombing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

He hinted that Iran might be involved.

Britain and France already have been briefed "in general terms" about the U.S. plans, Perry said in an interview with National Public Radio. He declined to be more specific.

Asked whether the connection might be Iran, Perry replied, "Possibly. . . . We know that Iran is very active in international terrorism, some of it directed against the United States. It's no secret; they have announced that themselves.

"The Saudis, I think, are close to completing their investigation on that case and will be announcing that soon," Perry said. "I anticipate that we will find, when they announce it . . . there will be an international connection, yes."

State Department officials were more circumspect in their assessment.

"We are convinced there has been no conclusion to the investigation," one senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We don't believe that any judgment has been reached on whether or not there was another country involved in the attack, and certainly who that country might be."

Iran's mission to the United Nations called Perry's remarks "a crude political exploitation of an atmosphere permeated by loss of unsuspecting innocent lives."

Perry's comments were his first on the matter since returning Thursday from Saudi Arabia, where he negotiated a deal to move 4,000 U.S. troops to safer quarters inside the desert kingdom to avert further terrorist attacks. Nineteen servicemen were killed in the bombing of the Khobar Towers outside Dhahran.

Perry said he had yet to come to a conclusion about who was behind the explosion, but he called Iran "the leading candidate" for international terrorism directed against the United States.

"If we have compelling evidence of international sponsorship of that bombing, we will take strong action," he said. …

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