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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Washington in uproar over reports on $195 million Iran-Iraq arms deal

26 February 2014, 14:24

The United States has voiced deep concern over the allegations that Iran is planning to supply Iraq with $195 million worth of weapons.

The US Department of State said it was looking into the reports, indicating that any transfer to arms from Iran to a third country is a direct violation of a United Nations resolution. Washington has already accused Iran of having shipped arms to the Syrian government through Iraq.

The agreement was reached in late November, just weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, returned from Washington, where he lobbied the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight armed rebels, Reuters reports.

The first official arms deal between Iran and Iraq's Shia-led government would break a UN embargo on arms sales by Tehran.

The official documents seen by Reuters showed that six of eight contracts were signed with Tehran to supply Iraq with light and medium arms, mortar launchers and tank ammunition.

The arms purchases amount to a drop in the ocean for Iraq. The country receives most of the arms from the United States as well as Russia and some other countries.

But the deal is viewed as politically significant as Prime Minister Maliki is seeking a third term in office. Iraq has long complained the timetable for deliveries of US weapons and aircraft was too slow.

'If true, this would raise serious concerns,' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing.

'Any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of UNSCR 1747. We are seeking clarification on the matter from the government of Iraq and to ensure that Iraqi officials understand the limits that international law places on arms trade with Iran,' Psaki said, referring to the UN resolution that imposed an arms embargo on Iran.

A US official said such a deal could further complicate Washington's approach to negotiating with Iran on easing international sanctions over its nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at producing bombs. Iran says its aims are purely peaceful.

Asked at the Washington briefing if the deal could have come about due to Iraqi frustration at the slowness of US deliveries, Psaki said the United States was committed to supporting Iraq and had provided it with more than $15 billion in military and security equipment, services, and training.

'We're working to accelerate our ... deliveries of critical CT (counterterrorism) equipment,' she said.

Psaki said recent US shipments included Hellfire missiles, hundreds of small arms and large quantities of small arms and tank ammunition. She said the US government had also notified Congress of plans to supply Iraq with Apache helicopters.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Prime Minister would not confirm or deny the sale, but said such a deal would be understandable, what with Iraq's current security troubles and the necessity to wage war against militant groups.

The Iranian government denied any knowledge of a deal to sell arms to Baghdad.

White House says raised concerns with Iraq about report of arms deal with Iran

The US government raised concerns about a reported arms deal between Iraq and Iran 'at the highest levels' with Iraq's government, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.

Carney said that the Iraq government has denied in a press release that any contracts were signed, and noted that the US government will follow up with Iraq on the issue.

Iraq signs deal to buy arms from Iran

Iran has signed eight contracts to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, Reuters reports referring to documents provided by an unnamed source. This deal violates a UN arms embargo on Iran.

According to the documents, the agreement was reached at the end of November, a few weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from Washington after talks with the Obama administration on extra weapons supplies.

The Iranian government denied any knowledge of the deal.

Spokesman for the Iraqi Prime Minister, Ali Mussawi, would not confirm or deny the sale, but said such a deal would be understandable given Iraq's current security troubles.

'We are launching a war against terrorism and we want to win this war. Nothing prevents us from buying arms and ammunition from any party and it's only ammunition helping us to fight terrorists,' he said.

Meanwhile, at a briefing in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed concern about the information. 'Any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of UNSCR 1747. We are seeking clarification on the matter from the government of Iraq and to ensure that Iraqi officials understand the limits that international law places on arms trade with Iran,' Psaki said, referring to the UN resolution that imposed an arms embargo on Iran.

Answering the question on whether the deal could be a result of delays in deliveries of US arms to Iraq, Psaki said the United States was committed to supporting Iraq and had provided it with more than $15 billion in military and security equipment, services, and training.

According to the official documents seen by Reuters, six of eight contracts were signed with Iran's Defense Industries Organization to supply Iraq with light and medium arms, mortar launchers, ammunition for tanks as well as artillery and mortars. Another two contracts were signed with the state-owned Iran Electronic Industries for night vision goggles, communications equipment and mortar-guiding devices. One of the contracts also includes purchases of protecting equipment against chemical agents.

On the whole, this deal represents an insignificant part of Iraq's weapons purchases, most of which come from the United States and also from Russia and other countries. But they are politically significant for Prime Minister Maliki who purses a third term in office as Iraqi politicians consider Iran's backing to be very important in regards to the political struggle in the country.

According to Amman-based Iraq analyst Yahya al-Kubaisay from the Iraqi Center for Strategic Studies, 'We have here a political and not a military deal. On one hand it is aimed at financing Iran, which is desperately in need of dollars, and on the other it is clearly aimed at winning Tehran's support for Maliki's third term.'

A Shi'ite lawmaker close to Maliki said the deal with Iran was a message to Washington that threatening to withhold or delay arms purchases would no longer work.

US presses Iraq on reports of arms deal with Iran

The United States pressed Iraq Monday to explain media reports that it had signed a contract to buy arms from Iran, a move forbidden under a United Nations embargo.

'We've certainly seen those reports. If true, this would raise serious concerns,' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

A deal signed in November in which Iraq would buy $195 million in arms from Iran was reported by Reuters in Baghdad Monday.

Psaki said that 'any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation' of the UN embargo.

'We are seeking clarification on this matter from the government of Iraq and to ensure that Iraqi officials understand the limits that international law places on arms trade with Iran,' she added.

The contract with Iran would have been signed just after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Washington requesting American military aid in fighting al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups.

In early January, Iran's deputy chief of staff General Mohammad Hejazi said that his country was ready to provide military equipment and advice to Iraq as it battles al-Qaeda. Maliki payed a visit to Iran one month later.

To help Iraq fight al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups, such as the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),

Washington has recently promised to speed up its delivery of Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones. The Pentagon is ready to sell more missiles and 24 Apache attack helicopters.

'We certainly view the government of Iraq as a partner in the fight against terrorism and we're committed to supporting them in this fight,' Psaki said.

She added that the United States has provided more than $15 billion in equipment, services and training to Iraqi armed services and security.

Voice of Russia, AFP, Reuters

Source: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_26/ Washington-in-uproar-over-reports-on-195- million-Iran-Iraq-arms-deal-9106/



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