Bush Calls Putin on Russia's Illegal Arming of Iraq
Monday, March 24, 2003
WASHINGTON – President Bush voiced his concerns about the sale of banned military hardware to the Iraqi regime in a phone call today with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
White House officials say the issue has been a problem for nearly a year.
"We are very concerned that there are reports of ongoing cooperation and support to Iraqi military forces being provided by a Russian company that produces [global positioning systems-]jamming equipment," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.
"There are other causes of concern as well involving night vision goggles and anti-tank guided missiles. So we do have concerns that some aspects of this may be ongoing," he said.
The White House voiced displeasure over the sale of military equipment to Iraq that it says was banned under U.N. rules. It said the United States had "credible evidence" that Russian companies provided the assistance and the prohibited hardware to the Iraqi regime.
"That's why we have found these actions to be disturbing," Fleischer said.
It is not the first time the White House has raised the issue of banned sales with Russian officials, Fleischer said. Senior U.S. officials have "repeatedly raised this issue with their Russian counterparts," he said, in hopes that their government would sever the ties between the companies and the Iraqis.
Russia's Tass News Agency reported earlier that sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry called the U.S. charges "utterly groundless" and claimed there had been no Russian arms supplies to Iraq since 1991. The Iraqi ambassador to Moscow, Abbas Khalaf, denied the allegations. "This is another American propaganda invention," Khalaf told Interfax news agency. "Such deliveries are impossible in conditions of international economic sanctions against Iraq."
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said today he also spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov about the matter. Ivanov had initially denied the sales were taking place.
Powell said he told Ivanov that he would provide the Russian government with more "clues and cues" about the sales he believed would put military personnel in harm's way.
Yeah, I know, its old news but there are idiots who dont know about this stuff.