|Iranian defense minister dismisses Panetta’s claim as baseless||
TEHRAN – Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Sunday dismissed as baseless the claim by outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Iran was escalating efforts to destabilize the region.
“These baseless accusations are a kind of ridiculous evasive action that cannot cover up numerous crimes committed by the United States in various parts of the world, particularly the Middle East region,” Vahidi said.
Panetta accused Iran of an intensified campaign to destabilize the Middle East by smuggling anti-aircraft weapons to militant allies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, according to Reuters.
“There is no question when you start passing MANPADS around, that becomes a threat, not just to military aircraft but to civilian aircraft,” Panetta told the newspaper in an interview. “That is an escalation.”
MANPADS are shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
The Iranian defense minister also said, “For the U.S. spy agency and the Pentagon, whose names in the world have become synonymous with terror, threat, insecurity, abduction, espionage, weapons smuggling, and killing and which take actions that are in violation of international law to serve their illegitimate interests, leveling accusation and taking evasive action are regarded as common practice.”
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