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President points to Pakistan -

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ELEANOR HALL: Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmedinajad, is now accusing Pakistan of being behind the
suicide attack on his Revolutionary Guards in the country's south-east overnight.

A Sunni group known as Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the attack which killed more than
three dozen people including several senior members of the President's elite Revolutionary Guard.
Initially the Iranian leadership accused the United States and Britain of being involved in the
attack, which coincides with the preparations for the Vienna talks on Iran's nuclear future.

Dr Anthony Bubalo is the program director for West Asia at the Lowy Institute and he spoke to me a
short time ago.

Anthony Bubalo, the Jundallah has reportedly claimed responsibility for this suicide attack. What
can you tell us about this group?

ANTHONY BUBALO: This is an organisation that is, a Sunni terrorist organisation, that for a number
of years has been fighting a violent campaign in support of the Baluchi rights in Balochistan a
predominately Sunni province of Iran.

ELEANOR HALL: And how lawless is this region of Iran which of course borders Afghanistan and

ANTHONY BUBALO: Some of the groups along this border including Jundallah have been heavily involved
in drug smuggling and other smuggling activities so the border area has been fairly lawless and
opened up a lot of movement back and forth across into Pakistan and into Afghanistan including by
this group.

ELEANOR HALL: And there have been similar attacks earlier this year on the Revolutionary Guard but
is it unusual that these suicide bombers managed to breach security around such high-level members
of the Revolutionary Guard?

ANTHONY BUBALO: It doesn't happen that often but it is not that unusual in the sense that sometimes
they get lucky and they get a good piece of intelligence as they seem to have in this case.

ELEANOR HALL: And President Ahmedinajad has accused Pakistani security agents of being involved in
this attack. Do you think that is likely?

ANTHONY BUBALO: Look, it is very unclear. We don't know. Of course the Iranians have alleged and in
fact it's the case that Jundallah does operate across the border but precisely what connection
Jundallah has to the Pakistani intelligence services and whether they would have been involved in
this particular attack is not clear.

What is interesting I suppose is that initially at least, the regime was blaming the US for having
links in the Jundallah and now seems to shift the focus to Pakistan and that might be significant
given the ongoing negotiations between the US and Iran on the nuclear issue.

ELEANOR HALL: And what would be the motivation for Pakistani security agents to be involved in an
attack like this?

ANTHONY BUBALO: Oh look, both countries have traded allegations. There is a Baluchi insurgency on
the Pakistani side of the border against the Pakistani state and the Pakistanis have claimed that
Iran has supported groups on its side of the border. So there has been a kind of tit for tat
element to it as well.

ELEANOR HALL: The Iranian leadership was initially blaming the US and the UK. Is this any more than
just predictable rhetoric?

ANTHONY BUBALO: I think it is. I mean there have been claims in the press from time to time that
the US, the US intelligence agencies have had connections into some of these insurgent groups but
nothing has ever been proven about those connections and again the most interesting thing for me
here is how the focus was initially on the US and the UK and now seems to have shifted to Pakistan
and that may suggest that the regime is keen that this not play into and affect its current
negotiations and talks with the US and others on the nuclear issue.

ELEANOR HALL: Well this attack has happened just before the Vienna meeting to discuss an agreement
on Iran's nuclear future. Is it likely to be connected to that, do you think?

ANTHONY BUBALO: I don't think it is. I think these groups are fairly opportunistic and it would
have been the opportunity more than any specific connection to the negotiations that would have
motivated the attack.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, also the Revolutionary Guard led the crackdown on election protestors this
year. Is there likely to be a connection between this spate of attacks on the Revolutionary Guard
and the disputed election results?

ANTHONY BUBALO: No, I don't think so. I think, as I said, these groups are fairly opportunistic.
They would have taken any opportunity to strike at senior, particularly security and intelligence
forces personnel from the regime. So I don't think you should read too much into this in terms of
the post-election unrest in Iran.

ELEANOR HALL: And President Ahmedinajad has vowed retaliation for this attack. What form do you
think that might take?

ANTHONY BUBALO: Time will tell. The interesting question will be whether they try and strike at
some of these groups within Pakistan. I think that is probably unlikely but that is a possibility.

ELEANOR HALL: Is it worrying if there is a growing divide between Pakistan and Iran?

ANTHONY BUBALO: There has always been a high degree of competition between Iran and Pakistan
including in Afghanistan where they have tended to support different sides of the political divide
in that country but, and of course, it does become a concern if this increases tensions between the
two countries.

ELEANOR HALL: Anthony Bubalo, thanks very much for joining us.


ELEANOR HALL: That is Anthony Bubolo, the program director for West Asia at the Lowy Institute.