News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran spends $2.5B on activities in Iraq, exiles say

Iran spends $2.5B on activities in Iraq, exiles say

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ImageBloomberg: Iran spends $2.5 billion a year on its "activities" in Iraq and provides militias there with 80 percent of the arms used against U.S.-led forces, the exiled opposition National Council for Resistance in Iran said.

By Caroline Alexander

ImageJune 10 (Bloomberg) — Iran spends $2.5 billion a year on its "activities" in Iraq and provides militias there with 80 percent of the arms used against U.S.-led forces, the exiled opposition National Council for Resistance in Iran said.

"The mullahs have no intention of seeing a safe and secure Iraq," Hossein Abedini, a member of the group's foreign affairs committee, told a press conference in London today. "They are stepping up attacks to push coalition forces out so they can set up a satellite state."

Iran increased its weapon production centers from one to three, setting up new sites north of Tehran in Parchain, Sayad Shirzai and Shiroodi, Adeini said. Engineers in these areas are trying to create ever more powerful rockets, roadside bombs and anti-tank missiles, which are being smuggled into Iraq through both official and secret routes, he said.

Britain and the U.S. have repeatedly accused Iran of interfering in its neighbor's affairs by funding and training Shiite militia groups. Abedini said the only way to stop this is to impose tougher sanctions against Iran and back Iranians who seek democratic change.

The NCRI, an umbrella of Iranian opposition groups in exile, has stated it wants to overthrow the Iranian regime. It figures on the U.S., U.K. and European list of banned terrorist organizations. Some members of the U.K. Parliament, including Robin Corbett and Andrew Mackinlay, say the group was included only to appease Iran and are pushing for it to be recognized as a legitimate opposition.

Abedini named engineers, officials and commanders he said are involved in the research, testing and production of arms. All the information, obtained from people working within the government, has been passed to coalition forces and the British government, he said. Calls to the Iranian Foreign Ministry seeking comment were diverted to voice mail.

The NCRI, which is funded by private individuals, has in the past revealed information about Iran that has proven to be true. Most recently, it revealed last year Iran was paying monthly salaries to 32,000 agents in Baghdad.

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