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Russia Denies Selling Weapons to Iraq

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has denied U.S. allegations that Russia sold sensitive military equipment to Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions. The State Department leveled the accusations during the weekend and said Russia's response to U.S. concerns had been unsatisfactory.

Foreign Minister Ivanov categorically rejected the accusations of illicit weapons sales to Iraq, saying Russia strictly observes its international obligations.

Mr. Ivanov acknowledged that the United States has been asking about the possibility of such banned sales since last October. But he said Washington has yet to supply any facts to prove the accusations.

Russian officials are accused of overlooking the sale of electronic jamming equipment to Iraq, as well as other deals allegedly involving anti-tank missiles and night-vision goggles that could make allied operations in Iraq more difficult.

The United States suspects three Russian firms of having made the sales, and officials in Washington say they registered their dismay months ago at the highest levels in Moscow.

The Russian foreign minister says that if the allegations are confirmed, the appropriate actions will be taken.

President Vladimir Putin's aide, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, also spoke out against the U.S. allegations.

Mr. Yastrzhembsky told Echo Moscow Radio that Russia is very careful to adhere to all international sanctions and respects international law. He then characterized the U.S. allegations as far-fetched, adding that night-vision goggles are available at numerous hunting stores across Moscow.

Russia's arms export agency, Rosoborenexport, similarly denies involvement in any illegal sales to Iraq.