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Ukraine Denies Selling Radar to Iraq

Military: Envoy invites inspectors to probe whether his nation violated U.N. sanctions.

September 27, 2002|From Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — Ukraine's foreign minister Thursday rejected U.S. accusations that his country sold a radar system to Iraq, and he invited U.N. or American inspectors to investigate charges that it had violated U.N. sanctions against Baghdad.

Anatoly Zlenko met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan briefly before discussing the accusations with Ole Peter Kolby, the Norwegian ambassador who heads the U.N. sanctions committee.

Zlenko also planned to discuss the matter in a meeting with diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China--the five permanent Security Council members.

"The accusation is groundless," Zlenko told reporters. He called for an international investigation, led by U.N. weapons inspectors or a team of international experts.

The State Department said this week that authentic audiotapes provided by a former Ukrainian security official indicated that Ukrainian President Leonid D. Kuchma personally approved the transfer of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq in violation of the sanctions. The system can detect approaching aircraft without tipping off their pilots.

The State Department also said that Ukrainian officials have been in contact with the U.S. about the alleged sale but doubted that they had been honest.

In a meeting over the alleged arms sale, Kuchma told British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon on Thursday that he would prove the charges false.

"Ukraine's president stressed that Ukraine did not supply any weapons to Iraq," Kuchma spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska said.

The U.N. Security Council imposed a strict embargo on Iraq after Baghdad invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990 and sparked the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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