State Dept pressed about possible US and/or Israeli role in deadly Iran bombings
“The United States has a long history of doing things in Iran...”
At Wednesday’s press briefing, several reporters pressed State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller about the possibility that the United Stated and/or Israel could have had a role in the bombings that took place in the Iranian city of Kerman yesterday.
When he was first asked about the bombing, Miller said:
With respect to the explosions in Iran today, what I’ll say: We have been following the reports rather closely. We don’t have any independent information to offer on them. We do express our sympathies to the victims and their loved ones who died in this horrific explosion. As I said, it’s too early, at least for us, to be able to say what might have caused it.
He then addressed (in his words) “some of the irresponsible claims” that the US or Israel were involved, calling the former “ridiculous,” and saying of the latter that they have “no reason to believe” that there was Israeli involvement either.
“Why not?” replied Associated Press reporter Matt Lee.
“We just do not have any information to believe that that’s the case,” said Miller.
Later, Shaun Tandon, a reporter for AFP, asked him who he thought “could be behind it,” if not the US or Israel.
“Do you have other suspicions of other parties, if you don’t think it’s Israel?” he asked.
“I just don’t have an assessment to offer,” said Miller. “It’s too early, and we don’t have any independent information I can offer from this podium at this time.”
Another reporter followed up:
Q: …on the explosion today, you said you, quote, “don’t have any independent information”, but also you have no information that Israel is involved. So are you entertaining the fact that Israel could have been involved; you just don’t know yet?
MILLER: We just do not have any information to —
Q: Have you spoken —
MILLER: We have no information to suggest that they were.
Q: Have you spoken with Israeli officials since this morning’s call?
MILLER: We speak to Israeli —
Q: Have they denied it…?
MILLER: We speak to – I will say we speak to Israeli officials multiple times every day, and I won’t get into those conversations, but as I said, we don’t have any information to believe they were involved.
Finally, Matt Lee had another lengthier exchange with Miller, pressing him on the notion that it was “ridiculous” to suggest or speculate that the US could have been involved, citing CIA involvement in the 1953 overthrown of Iranian PM Mohammad Mosaddegh as an example of how the US has has “done things in Iran for a long time.
“It took decades after 1953 for the US to admit its role – and the Brits as well – to admit their role in the coup,” he noted, also citing the fact that the US “loudly and proudly” took credit for killing Iranian military officer Qasem Soleimani just four years ago.
LEE: …So why is it ridiculous for people to think or speculate that what happened today had nothing to do with the United States?
MILLER: Look, people are always going to make all kinds of claims and all kinds of speculations. I think it’s ridiculous because it didn’t happen, and that’s what I can – I can say from this podium that we were not involved.
LEE: So if you were involved, though, you would be out there saying, yes, we did it, right? Like what happened —
MILLER: You are asking – we are getting into several levels of counterfactuals here. We were not involved. (Laughter.)
LEE: Okay. But I – but I’m not sure I understand why you say that it’s ridiculous for people to think that or to speculate it or to speculate about it or to suggest it given the history of the United States in Iran.
MILLER: I will say if the reports coming out of Iran are accurate, these are explosions that have killed dozens – by some reports over a hundred – civilians. The United States was not involved with those. And you can disagree; I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that we were.
LEE: No, I’m not disagreeing. I just wonder —
MILLER: Yeah, fair, fair, fair.
LEE: I just want to know why you —
MILLER: I shouldn’t have said that. Yeah.
LEE: — you come out and say it’s ridiculous. I mean, the U.S. also, I believe – I can’t remember the exact year – shot down an Iranian airliner!
MILLER: We’re getting back into ancient history, before –
LEE: Not– it’s not that ancient!
MILLER: Not ancient… But certainly well before this administration was in office.