WASHINGTON — Iran may have obtained a small number of American-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles by taking them away from a U.S.-backed group of Afghan guerrillas earlier this year, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said in an interview Wednesday.
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards might have seized some of the shoulder-fired missiles after a truck convoy broke down near the Iran-Afghanistan border, Weinberger told the Wall Street Journal. The convoy was attempting to deliver some of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to the moujahedeen, the Muslim resistance forces fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Asked directly if the Iranians acquired some of the weapons by seizing them from the truck convoy, the secretary replied: "I think that is a scenario that could possibly have some validity to it, yes. They 'requisitioned' them.' "
Defense Department spokesmen declined to elaborate, but other officials expressed surprise that Weinberger had discussed the matter, saying that the Pentagon's investigation was "not conclusive."
The Pentagon has been trying since last week to determine whether--and if so, how--Iran had obtained Stinger missiles. Batteries for the weapon were found aboard a small gunboat that was disabled in an Oct. 8 confrontation with U.S. military helicopters.