BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials say the government is reconsidering plans to buy more than $4 billion in arms from Russia.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last month traveled to Moscow and outlined plans to buy the weapons, including helicopter gunships and air defense missiles.
Some Iraqi media reports, such as one that aired this week on the private al-Sharqiya TV channel, have suggested impropriety such as kickbacks by some of those involved in brokering the deal. They cite mostly unnamed sources and provide few specifics.
Maliki's spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi, said the decision to renegotiate the agreements was taken after the prime minister was informed about possible wrongdoing in the contract.
"Our need for weapons still stands so we will renegotiate new contracts," al-Moussawi said. "This is a precautionary measure because of suspected corruption."
But acting Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi, who negotiated with the Russians, dismissed the corruption charges.
"We have not transferred even one dinar, there was no agent, no contract was signed. These were just technical and financial offers," he told reporters in Baghdad.
Al-Dulaimi said the existing proposal "has become meaningless," and the government plans to renegotiate the deal, seeking better terms.
Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport declined to comment.
Russia's Interfax news agency also said the Russian embassy in Iraq said it had not been informed the deal had been scrapped.
Russia's daily Kommersant said the contract, announced in October, envisaged the delivery of 42 combined short- to medium-range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons systems Pantsir-S1.
It also said Russia could be selling Baghdad MiG-29M/M2 aircraft as well armored vehicles. Previous news reports had detailed the sale of attack helicopters.
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