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Iraq signs deal to buy arms from Iran: Report

Al-Akhbar | February 24, 2014

Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters – a move that would break a UN embargo on weapons sales by Tehran.

The agreement was reached at the end of November, the documents showed, just weeks after Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from Washington, where he lobbied the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.

Some in Washington are nervous about providing sensitive US military equipment to a country they worry is becoming too close to Iran. Several Iraqi lawmakers said Maliki had made the deal because he was fed up with delays to US arms deliveries.

A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister 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,” said the spokesman, Ali Musawi.

The Iranian government denied any knowledge of a deal to sell arms to Iraq. It would be the first official arms deal between Iran and Iraq’s government and it highlights the growing bond between them in the two years since the departure of US troops from Iraq.

One US official, told of Reuters’ findings, 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, with no evidence, is aimed at producing bombs. Iran says its aims are purely peaceful.

“If true, this would raise serious concerns,” the US official said. “Any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of Iran’s obligations under UNSCR 1747.”

The official documents seen by Reuters showed that 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.

A final two contracts were agreed to with the state-owned Iran Electronic Industries for night vision goggles, communications equipment and mortar guiding devices.

One of the contracts includes equipment to protect against chemical agents. An Iraqi army major with knowledge of procurement issues said that would include items such as gas masks and gloves, as well as injections. Baghdad has expressed fear the militants will use such agents against its forces.

Officials from the Iraqi and Iranian defense ministries signed the agreements, according to the documents. They did not list a timetable for deliveries and it was not possible to confirm whether they had taken place.

Maliki is engaged in a nearly two-month-old battle in western Iraq against al Qaeda-inspired militants and rebellious tribesmen. The prime minister has blamed the unrest in Anbar on the conflict spilling over from neighboring Syria.

One Western security official said US government experts believed an Iranian-Iraqi arms deal had been in the works for some time.

The growing friendship between the two countries is discomfiting for the United States.

Iran already supplies Baghdad with electricity and gas and reiterated an offer of military assistance in January.

The weapons purchases amount to a drop in the ocean for Iraq, which receives most of its arms from the United States and has also bought weapons and helicopters from Russia and other countries.

But they are politically significant as Maliki pursues a third term in office.

“We have here a political and not a military deal,” said Amman-based Iraq analyst Yahya al-Kubaisi from the Iraqi Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank filled with political opponents of the Iraqi government. “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.”

Three Iraqi lawmakers, who said they had knowledge of the deals, argued they were due to Maliki’s unhappiness with Washington’s response to his request to supply Iraq with arms and ammunition to fight militant groups during his visit late last year. Iraq has long complained the timetable for US weapons and aircraft delivery was too slow.

“The Americans were obviously dragging their feet from implementing the arms deals signed with Baghdad and under different pretexts, and that was a reason to get urgent shipments from Tehran,” said one of the lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

The US government in recent months has delivered Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to Iraq as part of its long-standing relationship with Baghdad, which it illegally invaded and occupied in 2003. It has also supplied Iraq with M1 Abrams tanks and is in process of delivering F-16 fighter jets.

Since fighting broke out in western Anbar in January, Washington has pushed to move ahead with the sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq, which had been held up for months due to the concerns of US lawmakers about how Maliki would use them.

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

“If you went to a shop to buy a toy and they refused to sell it to you, then as long as you have the cash, you can get it from the shop next door. It’s as simple as that,” said the official, who also asked to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of the issue.

A senior Iraq army officer said Iran was the best source for quick shipments as some of the arms used by the Iraqi army are similar to those manufactured by Tehran, including assault weapons, mortars, artillery and tank ammunition. Iran even produces ammunition for US-made M-12 assault rifles, used by the Iraqi military.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

February 24, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, Iraq to jointly explore, develop border gas, oil fields

Press TV – July 19, 2013

The Iranian Oil Ministry says Tehran and Baghdad have agreed to explore and develop oil and gas fields lying along the common border between the neighboring OPEC members, Press TV reports.

The ministry added that the two sides have agreed to work together to settle territorial and ownership differences.

Under the agreement, the two countries will establish joint ventures to carry out the exploration and development of joint oil and gas fields.

The energy cooperation is also expected to minimize the impacts of interferences made by international oil giants in regional affairs.

The agreement came during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s official visit to Iraq.

Ahmadinejad arrived in Iraq on Thursday at the head of a high-ranking delegation for an official two-day tour aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries.

The Iranian president held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzai and also met with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and the country’s lawmakers on Thursday .

Ahmadinejad also paid a visit to the holy shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf.

The two-term Iranian president will leave office on August 3 to be succeeded by Hassan Rohani, who won an outright victory in the country’s presidential elections of July 14.

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia, Iraq seal USD 4.2 bn in arms contracts

Press TV – October 9, 2012

Russia has confirmed signing more than USD 4.2 billion worth arms contracts with Iraq during the second half of 2012, making it the country’s largest arms supplier after the US.

According to a joint statement issued on Tuesday at a meeting between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his visiting Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki, the contracts were signed during visits to Russia by Iraqi delegations including Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

“The delegation members familiarized themselves with the Russian military production, discussed the technical and commercial options of the offer with Rosoboronexport (state) supplier, and signed contracts worth more than $4.2 billion,” read the statement.

On Monday, the Iraqi premier arrived in Moscow to consolidate political, economic and defense ties with Russia and discuss the recent developments in Syria.

Prior to Maliki’s first visit to Moscow, Russian reports said the deals would all be sealed jointly this week and totaled some USD 4.3 billion.

The two countries also negotiated Iraq’s purchase of 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems.

Maliki said in the Russian Foreign Ministry mansion on Monday that Iraq needs Russia’s help in defense and military areas and needs arms to “defend itself and fight terrorism” in the country.

The two countries were said to further negotiate Iraq’s acquisition of MiG-29 jets and heavy armored vehicles along with other weaponry.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iraqi prime minister is visiting Moscow for the first time in three years and a half at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment