NICOSIA, Cyprus — Iran said Friday that U.S. envoys who visited Tehran last year claimed 36 Soviet divisions were massed near the Caspian Sea, ready to sweep south across the border into Iran.
Parliament speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani declared in his weekly prayer sermon at Tehran University that the Americans' purpose was to get Iran into a war with the Soviet Union and divert its forces from the war with Iraq.
Rafsanjani said the American officials, whom he did not name, showed the Iranians "a satellite photograph" marked with lines near the Caspian showing areas where the Americans said Soviet forces planned to enter Iran.
Former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane and other U.S. officials made secret trips to Iran last year to arrange arms sales, negotiate for the release of Americans held hostage in Lebanon and explore the possibility of renewed relations.
He said the warning was intended to undermine Soviet-Iranian relations, "involve us in a war with our northern neighbor" and divert Iranian troops from the battlefront with Iraq.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Charles Redman would not comment.