- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

President Bush yesterday called on Russia's government to investigate and halt arms shipments to Iraq from Russian companies.
Mr. Bush said in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that his government should investigate and stop military assistance to Iraq, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"We are very concerned that there are reports of ongoing cooperation and support to Iraqi military forces being provided by a Russian company that produces GPS-jamming equipment," Mr. Fleischer said. GPS refers to the Global Positioning System. "There are other causes of concern as well involving night-vision goggles and anti-tank guided missiles."
The discussion involved U.S. concerns about "prohibited hardware that has been transferred from Russian companies to Iraq," he said.
U.S. officials said Russian companies have sold Iraq electronic-jamming equipment designed to knock out the guidance systems on U.S. satellite-guided bombs.
The assistance involved sales of the jammers and aid from Russian technical advisers who have helped the Iraqi military set up the equipment within the past month.
At the Pentagon, Army Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, vice director of operations for the Joint Staff, said the Russian GPS jammers are in Iraq.
"In fact, we have been aware for some time of the possibility of GPS jammers being fielded," Gen. McChrystal told reporters. "And what we've found is, through testing and through actual practice now, that they are not having a negative effect on the air campaign at this point."
The jammers could affect guidance kits put on bombs that use satellite navigation to guide them to targets.
The Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, bombs use GPS.
Sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles also use GPS guidance in addition to onboard computers that guide the missiles to targets.
Laser-guided bombs do not use GPS guidance.
So far in the war with Iraq, about 2,000 precision-guided weapons have been used, Pentagon officials said.
In Moscow, Mr. Putin denied in his telephone conversation with Mr. Bush that Russian firms had sold military equipment to Iraq, official Russian news agency reports said.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov also denied that the transfers took place.
"Russia rigorously observes all its international obligations and has not supplied Iraq with any equipment, including military, in breach of the sanctions regime," Mr. Ivanov said in Moscow.
"The U.S. side has asked us several times about possible supplies of banned equipment to Iraq. Our experts have checked these meticulously, and the last answer [by Russia to the United States] was made on March 18," he said. "No facts proving U.S. concerns have been found."
Russia's government in the past has denied U.S. intelligence reports about transfers of weapons and other material related to missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Fleischer said the arms-related transfers to Iraq have been going on "for quite some time."
"This is not the first instance in which these concerns have been raised with officials," he said.
"Senior U.S. government officials have repeatedly raised this issue with their Russian counterparts over the past year, in the hopes the Russian government will move aggressively to cut the cooperation from the company or the companies involved."
Mr. Fleischer added, "We've asked the Russian government that any such ongoing assistance cease immediately."
He also said U.N. sanctions prohibit Iraq from purchasing such military equipment and that Mr. Bush has raised the issues throughout his presidency.
Mr. Fleischer described the sanctions as "made of Swiss cheese there were so many holes in the sanctions that Iraq was able to get ahold of equipment of a variety of natures that it was prohibited from having."
Iraq also has diverted goods purchased under humanitarian programs for military purposes, Mr. Fleischer said.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that "such equipment in the hands of the Iraqi military may pose a direct threat to U.S. and coalition armed forces."
"The presence of advanced equipment in Iraq represents a threat to the forces that are now trying to deal with the Iraqi regime's refusal to disarm, that are trying to deal with the oppression and murderous activities of the Iraqi regime," Mr. Boucher said. "So the fact that our forces now have to deal with these things that never should have been sold in the first place is a matter of great concern to us."
Mr. Boucher said the Russian government's response to U.S. complaints "has not been satisfactory."
"We hope that the responsible Russian agencies will take our concerns seriously," Mr. Boucher said.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also raised the matter with Mr. Ivanov yesterday, he said.
"This is activity being carried out by entities in Russia, and we're looking for oversight by the Russian government and interdiction, as well as information on what might have happened in the past," Mr. Boucher said. "But we don't think that we have the kind of oversight and interdiction that we've been asking for, nor any information on what might have occurred in the past."

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