Iraq will renegotiate the $4.2- billion arms deal which it initially agreed upon with Russia as allegations of bribe being paid for it have emerged, Xinhua reported.
“The Iraqi government has not signed any deals to purchase arms from Russia so far, but the process of buying arms from Russia is going on because Iraq needs such weapons to protect itself,” said Iraqi government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh.
“The Iraqi National Security Council has decided on Sunday to fully renegotiate with Russia on the purchase of arms and that a new committee had been formed for this purpose,” Dabbagh said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s media advisor Ali al- Mousawi told reporters that Maliki decided to renegotiate the agreements of the arms package with Moscow after he was informed about possible corruption in the contract.
The deal, which was announced one month ago, would see Russia supply Iraq with 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 50 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems, according to RIA Novosti.
It is Russia's biggest such contract in years and stands to make Iraq's biggest arms supplier after the US.
Meanwhile, Igor Korotchenko, Head of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade in Moscow, told the BBC that he believed the US had sought to pressure Iraq to back out in order to maintain America's dominance in the Iraqi arms market.
Yet Iraqi lawmaker Hakem al-Zamali, a member of the Parliamentary Defense Committee, was quoted by government-owned media as saying that Maliki was preparing to negotiate with Russia to buy “more sophisticated arms” than those previously ordered, ITV News reported.
“Of course, we need Russia's support in the military and defense areas,” Prime Minister Maliki said during a visit to Moscow last month, stating that Iraq did not need anyone's permission – including Washington's – to buy weapons.
Source: IANS; RIA Novosti; BBC; ITV