- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2002

A bipartisan group in Congress is urging the United States to restrict contact with Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma over reports that he authorized the sale of an advanced radar system to Iraq.
"Such criminal conduct by the leader of a country that has been a major beneficiary of U.S. political support and financial assistance is outrageous and demands a clear and firm response from the administration," congressional members of the U.S. Helsinki Commission wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
"We believe official contacts with Mr. Kuchma should be kept to an absolute minimum and be conducted at the lowest possible levels," said the letter sent to Mr. Powell last week.
It was signed by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican; Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican; Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat; and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat.
The letter is just one more step in efforts to send a "strong signal" to Mr. Kuchma, said Ariel Cohen, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
"I think that the Bush administration is mightily annoyed with … the Kuchma administration's inability to come clean and to cooperate fully on investigating what has been done," he said.
In early September, reports surfaced that Mr. Kuchma had approved the sale of a $100 million military radar system to Iraq. The Soviet-designed Kolchuga radar system tracks aircraft and surface vehicles silently by triangulating radio signals from the aircraft.
On Sept. 16, the U.S. government suspended $54 million in aid to Ukraine after determining the authenticity of a secretly taped recording of Mr. Kuchma authorizing the sale in July 2000.
The arms sale prompted NATO to snub Mr. Kuchma on Wednesday by announcing it would meet Ukrainian officials but not Mr. Kuchma at a summit of the military alliance in Prague next month.
"The NATO-Ukraine committee will convene at the foreign ministers' level," NATO spokesman Yves Brodeur told the Agence France-Presse news service.
Mr. Kuchma on Tuesday rejected the Iraqi arms sale report and called on NATO to open talks with his country.
Apart from the Iraq sale, Mr. Kuchma is also suspected of involvement in the unsolved killing of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze. Tapes released by a presidential security guard earlier this year feature a voice thought to be Mr. Kuchma's discussing the killing.
"Enough was enough long ago," said a U.S. government official close to the Helsinki Commission, noting long-standing claims of criminal behavior by Mr. Kuchma. "You have to base your expectations on his previous actions."
The United States has sent team of U.S. and British specialists to Kiev to determine if the radar system was delivered to Iraq. The result of the investigation have not been announced.

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