Iraq to Renegotiate Russian Arms Deal

By John Lee.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh (pictured) has announced that the country is to renegotiate the recent $4.2-billion weapons deal with Russia: "It will renegotiate with Russia to put an end to suspicions of corruption in the weapons deal", he said.

The turnaround follows the ouster of Russia's defense minister earlier this week, and allegations by Iraqi lawmakers and local media that the deal is tainted by corruption.

It wasn't clear whether the alleged graft was by Russian executives or by Iraqis, according to UPI, which also reports suspicions that the move may be a ploy by the Iraqi government to secure a more favorable deal, and the possibility that Washington has leaned on Maliki.

Russian media said the deliveries covered 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems. Discussions were also said to be under way for Iraq's eventual acquisition of a large batch of MiG-29 fighters and helicopters, along with heavy weaponry.

(Sources: Associated Press, UPI, AFP)

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