Published July 28, 2006
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's foreign ministry on Friday denied allegations that Tehran has provided military support to Hezbollah in its fight against Israel, a day after President Bush sharply criticized Iran's role in the bloody fighting.
"Our support has been spiritual. If we had military support, we would announce it. ... We don't have any hidden business," ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on state-run television.
Bush said Thursday that Iran is connected to Hezbollah, and now was the "time for the world to confront this danger."
Bush was responding to statements from top Israeli officials that the fighting could continue for several weeks. The Israeli offensive, which began after Hezbollah crossed the border and captured two Israeli soldiers, continued into its 17th day Friday.
John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also has alleged that Iranians are Hezbollah's "paymasters, and they're calling the tune." He estimated that Iran contributes $100 million annually to the Shiite Islamic militants, who have supplanted Lebanon's central government as the effective political and military force in the southern region bordering Israel.
Iran has repeatedly denied claims that it gives military and financial support to Hezbollah. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Washington, Israel's closest ally, wants to "recarve the map" of the region with Israel's help.
"They don't have any right to tell us why Iran supports Hezbollah at all. The question is why do they support Israel?" Asefi said.