Iraq denies cancelling $4.2 bln arms deal with Russia over 'corruption concerns'
Iraqi Defense Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi also confirmed that there was no cancellation of the agreement.
"The deal is going ahead," he said.Earlier, media reports claimed the deal – which would have made Russia Iraq’s second-biggest arms supplier after the United States – was cancelled.“When Maliki returned from his trip to Russia, he had some suspicions of corruption, so he decided to review the whole deal. … There is an investigation going on, on this,”Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali Mussawi said.The deal – which was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Maliki in October – will either be go through or be cancelled only after the Iraqi anti-corruption committee presents it findings.Officials in Moscow have not yet commented on the matter. The Russian embassy in Baghdad said it has not received word from the Foreign Ministry, and was not informed about the cancellation by Iraqi officials.The sale was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Maliki in October, and would have made Russia Iraq’s second-biggest arms supplier after the United States.The deal is one of the largest in both the modern history of Russia and for postwar Iraq.Experts speculated that the package likely would have included shipments of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles and air defense weapons.Though the details of the deal were kept secret, military analysts believe it was competitive enough to spark concerns in Washington, the primary arms dealer for Iraq.Military experts speculated that the deal may be cancelled due to pressure from Washington, and may result in punitive sanctions.Director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade Igor Korotchenko told RIA-Novosti news agency that if the deal does get axed, it would be an unprecedented event in the history of Russia's arms trade“Self-respecting states and governments don’t act this way,” Korotchenko said. RIA-Novosti also quoted an unnamed arms expert who warned that Iraq may incur harsh sanctions for the move: “If the deals were drawn up in a proper way from the legal point of view, the Iraqi side may suffer multi-million dollar losses by paying off punitive fees.”The expert went on to add that statements about suspected corruption have never been a legitimate basis for the annulment of contracts, especially in military-technical cooperation.