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[casi] "Iraq 'Seeks Weapons Technology from Ukraine' " (Financial Times - 8 Jul 02)

Source: Tom Warner and Stephen Fidler, "Iraq 'seeks weapons technology from
Ukraine' ", Financial Times, 8 July 2002


Iraq is exploiting its growing links with Ukraine in an effort to obtain
weapons technologies, arms control experts say.

They say the government of the former Soviet republic has been taking an
active role in organising direct ties between Ukrainian companies and Iraq.

Amid concerns about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, new
evidence of links between the two countries has brought calls for a
heightened international scrutiny of their relationship.

"For some years there was an intensive defence-technology relationship
between Ukraine and Iraq. This appears to be re-emerging and we don't want
to repeat the mistakes of the past," said Timothy McCarthy, a former United
Nations weapons inspector.

The US looks likely to launch an offensive against Iraq. President George W.
Bush is said to be concerned about Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's nuclear,
biological and chemical weapons programmes, and news of Ukraine's relations
with Iraq is likely to anger the US.

The US said on Monday the failure of talks between Iraq and the UN last week
showed Washington was right to suspect Iraq. Richard Boucher, State
Department spokesman, said Iraq had not indicated "that it intends to allow
inspectors to come in with unfettered access to verify that they're not
doing what we suspect they're doing . . . that is, developing weapons of
mass destruction". In recordings - heard by the Financial Times - of what
appears to be a conversation between Ukraine's president, Leonid Kuchma, and
Yuri Alexeyev, director of Yuzhmash, Ukraine's largest rocket maker, the men
mention Iraq, Iran and rockets.

The recordings were supplied by Mykola Melnychenko, one of Mr Kuchma's
former bodyguards. Mr Kuchma and Mr Alexeyev denied having supplied missile
technology to Iraq.

In a three-part investigation, which begins on Tuesday, the FT reveals a
dangerous lack of control over weapons of mass destruction and their
availability to countries such as Iraq - and even terrorists.

An Iraqi delegation led by Hikmat el-Azzawi, deputy prime minister, visited
Ukraine last month. Local media reports citing Ukrainian government sources
said Iraq offered to buy aircraft, ships and steel pipes. New bilateral
agreements were also reportedly signed.

Ukraine opened an embassy in Baghdad in 20 00 and its ministry of foreign
affairs accepted the credentials of Yuri Orshansky, a Ukrainian businessman,
as an honorary consul for Iraq.

Mr Orshansky told Ukrainian media he has visited Iraq 40 times since 1992,
but denies breaking international sanctions. In 2001, Mr Orshansky organised
a trade fair in Baghdad. "Even if they want to create a nuclear bomb, we
will study this," he was quoted as saying. "After all, in 50 years, maybe we
will offer our services." He could not be reached for comment.


Nathaniel Hurd
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