President Reagan charged today there is "a new danger in Central America" now that Iran has joined other "radical forces" in aiding Nicaragua's Sandinista regime.
It was the first time the United States has indicated that it believes Iran is supporting the leftist Sandinistas.
In a hard-hitting speech to 60 legislators from the Western Hemisphere, mostly from Latin America, Reagan said: "A new danger we see in Central America is the support being given to the Sandinistas by Col. (Moammar) Kadafi's Libya, the PLO and, most recently, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Iran. The subversion we're talking about violates international law."
The United States last week walked out of World Court deliberations in The Hague on charges by Nicaragua that Washington was trying to topple its government by mining Nicaraguan ports and backing anti-Sandinista rebels.
'Misusing the Court'
The United States said it was withdrawing from the case because Nicaragua was "misusing the court for political purposes."
Reagan today also condemned a "concerted and well-financed effort" by the Soviet Bloc and Cuba to seize power in Central America.
Radio Havana, in a broadcast monitored in Miami, said today that Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Moussavi held talks in Cuba with President Fidel Castro on Wednesday before traveling to Nicaragua to meet with President Daniel Ortega today.
OAS Sanctions Mentioned
Reagan, warning of subversion in Central America, said the Organization of American States "in the past has enacted sanctions against Cuba for such aggression."
"The Sandinistas have been attacking their neighbors through armed subversion since August of 1979," he said. "Countering this by supporting Nicaraguan freedom fighters is essentially acting in self-defense and is certainly consistent with the United Nations and OAS charter provisions for individual and collective security."
White House spokesman Larry Speakes said the Iranian leader's visit to Nicaragua--and "other factors" that he did not specify--prompted Reagan's tough speech.
Congress has blocked further aid to the Nicaraguan rebels, but the Administration is standing by its intention to resume the funding of covert aid to them.
'A Continuing Threat'
Speakes said that Nicarauga poses "a continuing threat" to its neighbors. "We've had some degree of success against subversion in El Salvador," he said. "The threat continues. The threat is as large as it ever has been.
"We think we've got a strong case to present to the American people today and we're doing so."
Reagan told United Press International in an interview Wednesday that the United States still hopes for a "political settlement" with Nicaragua.
Responding to questions, Speakes said the Administration has "no plans to use troops" against Nicaragua. "There is no change in policy," he said.