- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2007

China arms both sides

Iraq’s new government recently concluded a deal with China worth almost $100 million to outfit Iraqi police with Kalashnikov-design assault rifles and other small arms in a move that has U.S. defense and national security officials fuming.

The arms deal shows that Beijing is arming both sides of the Iraq conflict, as recent intelligence reports show that Chinese weaponry is being shipped to Iraqi and Afghan insurgents through Iran. Defense officials said the arms deal with Baghdad was concluded during the visit to Beijing by Iraqi President Jalal Talbani last month.

Brig. General Qasim Ata, an Iraq police spokesman, was quoted recently as saying the contracts with China were for imports of “advanced” Chinese weapons for the Iraqi armed forces.

One Bush administration official called the deal “extremely foolish.”

“Buying weapons from China will accelerate the alienation of America,” the official said. “Iraq purchasing PLA weapons along with the emerging PRC oil deal will contribute mightily to end game Iraq for the United States.” The PLA is the acronym for China’s military.

The official said the Iraqi government needs to better understand that the U.S. military is fighting and dying to give their nation the opportunity for a free and open society and government. “It is not the PLA, in fact the PLA is arming Iranians to kill Iraqis and Americans,” the official said.

Disclosure of the Iraqi government arms deal with China comes as a U.S. military spokesman this week confirmed the flow of Chinese shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to insurgents, first reported in this paper June 5.

Rear Adm. Mark Fox told reporters Sunday Chinese missiles found in Iraq likely were smuggled into the country from Iran. “We have seen ordnance and weapons that come from other places, but we assess that they have come through Iran,” Adm. Fox said. “There are missiles that are actually manufactured in China that we assess come through Iran as well.”

China’s Foreign Ministry accused the United States yesterday of misleading the public over the Chinese weapons smuggling.

Richard Fisher, a China specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the Iraqi government deal heightens the danger from insurgents.

“Soon we will face two Chinese threats in Iraq, the first from Chinese arms arriving via their Iranian allies, and second from Chinese arms captured from the Iraqi government,” he said.

“From oil deals now to arms deals, we are allowing China to benefit from the stability earned with American blood,” Mr. Fisher said. “China, let’s recall, was helping Saddam to shoot down U.S. aircraft” — a reference to China’s supplying fiber-optic communications to Saddam’s military.

New nuke strategy

The Bush administration told Congress this week that U.S. nuclear weapons and the infrastructure to support them will be needed for the foreseeable future, as Russia and China continue to build up their nuclear arsenals and rogue states such as Iran and North Korea continue work on nuclear arms.

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