Skip to comments.Arming Iraq (So Much for the UN Embargo)
Posted on 10/29/2004 9:56:47 AM PDT by TapTheSource
14 April 2003
SPOTLIGHT ARMING IRAQ By Roman Kupchinsky
In September 1990, a United Nations arms embargo was imposed on the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. By denying him new weapons and the means to modernize and service the weapons he already had, the UN intended to prevent him from carrying out acts of aggression against other countries and his own population.
Almost as soon as those sanctions went into effect, the Iraqi regime went shopping for arms. It did not go to the Arab world, which saw Hussein as a pariah and would not supply his needs, but to his old supplier, the former Soviet bloc. Hussein's agents and arms buyers had numerous contacts in this part of the world, and both sides shared two traits: a love of money and a hatred for the United States.
Iraqi delegations soon began arriving in the capitals of former communist countries, where huge stores of weapons were lying unguarded in massive stockpiles waiting to be sold on a "first come, first served" basis. The Bulgarians held some $800 million worth of arms in such stockpiles, according to a report by Human Rights Watch in April 1999 (http://hrw.org/reports/1999/bulgaria). Impoverished military personnel did not necessarily concern themselves with trivial matters like sanctions.
In Bulgaria, a country with an advanced arms industry, Iraqis rapidly began purchasing what they wanted. In 1992, they bought $15 million worth of arms from the Bulgarian company Kintex on the basis of false end-user certificates, according to "Forbes" magazine of 10 May 1993. Portuguese arms trader Jose Saldanha was quoted in the same article as saying, "They don't give a shit about embargoes and will sell anywhere."
In 1995 and 1996, Kintex shipped 20 Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters to Iraq in containers, according to "Forbes" of 10 May 1993. The Hinds had been purchased in either Russia or Ukraine. According to "The Moscow Times" of 27 March, the CEO of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant in 1997 told Russian journalist Pavel Felgenhauer that he had sent technicians from Moscow to Baghdad in 1996 to assemble the Hinds and prepare them for operation.
"The Chicago Tribune" of 3 April 2003 reported: "In 1995 authorities in Jordan intercepted 30 crates of 115 Russian-made gyroscopes removed from long-range missiles and being shipped from Russia to Karama, Iraq's missile development center, according to 1997 congressional testimony from the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.
"Russia at first denied involvement but then told the State Department that it could not determine who made the shipment."
On 11 November 1997, "The Washington Times" reported that Iraq was aiming to buy the Tamara stealth-detecting radar system from the Czech Republic by working with Bulgarian arms traders who were in league with Czech Defense Ministry officials. The deal was halted under U.S. pressure on the Czech Republic. Three years later, Iraqi intelligence approached the Ukrainian arms trading company UkrSpetzExport during an arms exhibition in Amman, Jordan, to buy a similar but reportedly improved item, a Ukrainian-made Kolchuga radar, also with anti-stealth capabilities. Covert tape recordings suggest that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma approved the sale as a covert operation, but Kuchma denies that the Kolchuga was ever shipped to Iraq.
The Kolchuga was not the only military item the Ukrainians had that interested Iraq. Numerous documents found in Iraq by UN weapons inspectors point to numerous items for which delivery contracts had been signed between Ukrainian firms and Iraq, including gyroscopes for missile-guidance systems. According to an article in "Commentary" magazine on July/August 2001 by Gary Milhollin and Kelly Motz, Ukrainian involvement in the arms trade with Iraq goes back to 1993.
In the current conflict in Iraq, the U.S.-based magazine "Newsweek" reported on 31 March that Iraqi forces used Russian-made Kornet missiles to destroy two U.S. Abrams tanks, citing unnamed Pentagon officials who claimed that "Ukrainian arms dealers" sent some 500 Kornets to Baghdad in January. Those charges were vehemently denied by Ukrainian authorities, who claimed it was impossible for anything of the sort to get past Ukrainian export controls.
Russian officials, including military strategist Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, who has been highly critical of the West in the past, denied U.S. allegations that Russia sold any of its missiles to Iraq, and a spokesman for the Tula factory that manufactures the missile told ORT television in Russia, "None of our products are in Iraq; otherwise, coalition losses would be much higher."
The former Soviet republic of Belarus, ruled by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, is another major supplier of arms to Iraq. Belarus acts as a direct supplier, a training ground for Iraqi personnel, and a surrogate dealer for Russian weapons.
According to "Jane's Intelligence Digest" of 28 March, Lebanese intelligence officers in January were tipped off by their Western counterparts that a large consignment of innocently labeled cargo at Beirut airport that had arrived from Belarus in fact contained military equipment. The 12 tons of equipment subsequently discovered included 600 helmets, army uniforms, 240 wireless-communication sets for tank crews, and other military items that had arrived aboard a flight from Minsk on 12 January (see "Jane's Intelligence Digest," 12 January 2003). Investigations revealed that the military equipment was destined for Iraq and was being shipped via Syrian middlemen. Belarusian officials denied that the material had originated in Belarus but accepted that Minsk, like Syria, might have served as a transit country. Lukashenka, Russia's closest ally in the Commonwealth of Independent States, described the Lebanese accusations as "thoughtless and senseless statements."
The former chairman of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich, wrote in the "Narodnaya Volya" newspaper (No. 55) that Belarus is not selling arms directly but is being used by Russia as a channel for arms sales to Iraq because "Belarus does not have and cannot have such weapons in sufficient quantities."
Russian arms sales to Iraq were vehemently denied by Russian officials after U.S. accusations in March that Russian companies sold GPS jamming devices to the Iraqis. But those allegations are not new. The "Financial Times" on 8 February reported that Russian suppliers attempted to sell Igla surface-to-air missiles to Iraq through cover purchases in neighboring countries such as Syria. On 23 February, "The Sacramento Bee" reported that Russian-made S-300P missiles had been sold to Iraq by a Russian-Belarusian company. Accusations in "The Moscow Times" of 27 March that Moscow sold Kornet guided, antitank missiles to Iraq using Yemen as a false end user, all might seem credible in this context.
The seeming pattern of Russian sales and deliveries to Iraq suggest a vast covert operation might have been undertaken by the Russian intelligence service to supply Saddam Hussein. Utilizing criminal arms dealers, fake end-user certificates, and Belarusians and Ukrainians as surrogates, Russia seems to have been a major supplier of arms to Iraq for over a decade.
It is no simple task to sell large quantities of weapons to Iraq. These items must be shipped to a third country, clear customs, and then be transported to Iraq. In order for such schemes to work, considerable bribes need to be dished out, and an organization needs to be in place to arrange secure transportation. Without the help of the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabbarat, the undertaking might seem all but impossible. In those cases, the Russian intelligence service might have covertly lent a hand to arms dealers. This, after all, was the intended plan for getting the Ukrainian radars to Iraq ?-using the intelligence service, which could bypass export-control mechanisms and arrange for the secure shipment to Iraq.
The UN had no such intention, ever, at any time.
"The UN had no such intention, ever, at any time."
Couldn't agree with you more. The UN often says one thing and does the opposite...especially when it comes to American interests. Why do we keep pumping money into that hellhole!
The missing explosives play right into this story, as well. If we resolved to prevent Saddam from possessing deadly weapons, than why in the hell did the UN allow these 1000's of tons of explosives to remain in Iraq. Even worse, instead of destroying them, they allowed them to be stored, so Saddam could have access to them as dual-use material.
Shaking head. No answer.
"Shaking head. No answer."
It's amazing to watch the media...and other Dems, allow Kerry to get away with blaming every problem in Iraq, not just on Bush...but the USA. With all the crap that's come out about the Oil For Food Program; French and Russian duplicity in supplying weapons to Saddam; the failure of the UN to disarm Saddam, which is directly related to these missing explosives...and everything else, Kerry has yet to "once" criticize the UN.
These idiots who call Bush a failure for failing to get these so-called allies on board have dilerberately ignored the evidence of collusion that both enabled and emboldened Saddam to resist UN and coalition pressure.
At the same time that Kerry redicules Bush for demeaning these countries...demanding we put our trust and faith in these duplicitous partners, he is the one who has alienated our real allies, calling them window dressing and the coaltion of the coerced and bribed.
It disgusts me to no end that with all we know, neither Kerry or the media can bring themselves to assign blame where this blame belongs. Instead, just as Kerry (and the media) has done for over 30 years, he only sees fault in our country and service people.