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US against Iraq’s bids to acquire Russian missile systems: Lawmaker

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A battery of Russian-made S-400 air defense system (file photo)

An Iraqi legislator has criticized the United States for hampering Baghdad government’s attempts to acquire Russia's long-range and surface-to-air missile systems to modernize its defense infrastructure.

“Iraq was supposed to enter into a contract with Russia to purchase S-300 and S-400 air defense systems, but the US authorities were the ones who put obstacle in the way,” Arabic-language al-Ahad news agency quoted Mohammed Karim, a member of al-Sadiqoun coalition, as saying on Wednesday.

He stressed that Washington is “fiercely against Iraq's procurement of an advanced air defense system.”

Karim added, “The US has not provided any alternatives to the Russian air defense systems, but has rather stood as a stumbling block against the purchase of the S-300 and S-400.”

The Iraqi lawmaker noted that Defense Minister Juma Inad has “contracted a number of countries to purchase weapons and armaments. Such contracts, however, do not include acquisition of air defense systems up until now.”

Back in May, the head of the security and defense committee in the Iraqi parliament, Mohammad Reza al-Haider, told Iraqi News Agency (INA) in an exclusive interview that his country will ultimately buy Russian-made S-300 or S-400 air defense missile systems.

“Iraq is contemplating buying S-300 or S-400 systems from Russia in order to secure its own airspace against any foreign act of aggression. Iraq will reach out to purchase such systems in case the American side does not provide modern air defense armaments,” he said at the time.

Russian Ambassador to Iraq Maksim Maksimov said on April 30 that Moscow was prepared to provide Baghdad with advanced S-400 air defense missile systems once the Arab country made an official request for the military hardware.

“The Russian side has, thus far, not received an official request in this regard. There is no doubt that recent developments have increased interest in [procurement of] air missile defense systems, especially the S-400 system,” al-Ahad news agency quoted Maksimov as saying at the time.

The United States has already warned Iraq of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and concluding deals to buy sophisticated weaponry, particularly S-400 missile systems.

Washington had earlier threatened sanctions against Iraq under the so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) as a possible consequence of striking defense deals with Moscow.

The CAATSA was signed into law in August 2017, imposing sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

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