REGION: Iran dismisses Chalabi spy charges
* Warns United States over Iraq
* Calls Washington immoral and deceitful
TEHRAN: US allegations that Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi spied for Iran are unfounded and designed to divert attention from Washington’s problems in Iraq, the Iranian foreign ministry said on Sunday.
“These espionage allegations are obviously lacking any foundations,” ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
“The Americans are trying to cover up their massive problems, owing to their political unilateralism and their refusal to listen to the opinions of others.”
The United States is investigating accusations that Iraqi Governing Council member and former Pentagon favourite Chalabi passed sensitive information to Iran, a US official said on Friday.
“There is evidence Ahmed Chalabi passed sensitive information to Iran and an investigation is ongoing,” a US official said.
A furious Chalabi, who was once considered a Washington favourite to become a post-war leader of Iraq, said he had broken ties with the US-led coalition authorities and has denied the spying allegations as “bilge”.
“Iran does not need us to get information on the United States,” he said. Washington and Tehran severed diplomatic ties in 1980 after the Islamic revolution in
Asefi also sent sent a “formal warning” to the United States over American policy in neighbouring Iraq, as he branded Washington immoral and deceitful.
The situation in Iraq is serious and this is why we have addressed the necessary warning,” he told a press conference.
Washington has no diplomatic relations with Tehran and the warning — the first to be made public at least since the Iraq war began — was passed by diplomatic channels through the Swiss embassy here, which represents US interests in Iran. “We want several things for Iraq, the most important of which are the departure of the occupation forces as quickly as possible and the restitution of authority to the Iraqi people themselves,” Asefi said.
The United States accuses Iran of influencing Iraq’s own Shiite majority to destabilise the country, and allowing foreign fighters to cross its borders into Iraq.
Asefi also insisted that the People’s Mujahedeen, the main armed opposition organisation to the Islamic republic, be expelled from Iraq, where they have been held in a base under US guard.
“They should already have been expelled from Iraq, though they are still under American protection,” Assefi said.
“What we see here is the hypocrisy and immoral approach of the Americans.” Asefi said the situation in Iraq had changed following “the torture of prisoners” by US troops and “attacks on the holy places.”
Meanwhile, an AFP journalist witnessed demonstrators attempting to storm the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday clashed with riot police guarding the building in the fourth such incident in a week.
Some 400 Islamist students pelted stones at the embassy, demanding the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq and the expulsion of the British ambassador from Iran. Hundreds of police formed a cordon around the embassy to stop the demonstrators approaching. Agencies