Iraq Cancels $4.2B Arms Deal With Russia

It would have made Moscow the nation's No. 2 supplier
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2012 11:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Nouri al-Maliki seems to have had a very expensive change of heart, at least for Russia. The Iraqi prime minister abruptly canceled a $4.2 billion arms deal agreed to last month that would have made Moscow the nation's No. 2 arms supplier behind the US, reports AFP. A Maliki spokesman says the prime minister got wind of "corruption" and kickbacks related to the deal, but AFP's Moscow source thinks the US pressured Baghdad into scrapping it.

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The BBC quotes the head of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, and he agrees: "As soon as the deal was announced a month ago I said that the US would not allow Iraq to buy such huge quantities of weapons from Russia. I believe Washington regarded this as an absolutely unacceptable scenario," he said, adding that Maliki's corruption allegations were a "smokescreen." The deal involved attack helicopters and surface-to-air missile systems. (Read more Iraq stories.)

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