News : Sanctions
- Published: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 14:01
(Reuters) - 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 U.N. 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 lobbying the Obama administration in Washington for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.
Some in Washington are nervous about providing sensitive U.S. 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 in U.S. 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…
It would be the first official arms deal between Shi'ite Iran and Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and would highlight the growing bond between them in the two years since the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The U.S. State Department said it was looking into the reports.
"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 U.N. resolution that imposed an arms embargo on Iran…
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 Western security official said U.S. 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, which has accused Iran of having shipped arms to the Syrian government through Iraq.
But they are politically significant as Maliki purses a third term in office…
Iraqi politicians consider Iran's blessing as a necessity for seeking power. Maliki won his second term in 2010 only after the Iranians exerted pressure on recalcitrant Shi'ite parties on his behalf.
Many Iraqis accuse Iran of funding Iraqi Shi'ite militias who have seen a resurgence in the last two years as Iraq's security has deteriorated.
Images of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now decorate posters seen around Baghdad of Iraqi Shiite fighters slain fighting in Syria…
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