Iraq’s acting Defense Minister Sadun Al-Dulaymi has denied reports that Bagdad is annulling a $4.2 billion arms deal with Russia over concerns about possible corruption, Al-Jazeera reported on Saturday.
“The deal is going ahead,” Al-Dulaymi said at a press conference in Baghdad.
He also denied there was corruption in the deal adding that the Iraqi government simply failed to submit a report on the arms deal to the anti-corruption committee in due time.
Russia and Iraq had touted the agreement to deliver Russian attack helicopters and mobile air-defense systems following last month’s visit to Moscow by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during which he met his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.
An Iraqi government spokesman announced the deal’s cancellation earlier on Saturday.
“When Maliki returned from his trip to Russia, he had some suspicions of corruption, so he decided to review the whole deal. There is an investigation going on, on this,” the spokesman told AFP.
Hassan Jihad, a member of the Defense and Security Committee of the Iraqi National Assembly, told RIA Novosti that Iraq may soon send a new delegation to Russia to sign a revised arms contract.
At the time the deal was announced in October, the Russian press had hailed it as the country’s largest since 2006.
Under the contract, Moscow is to supply 30 Mil Mi-28NE night/all-weather capable attack helicopters, and 50 Pantsir-S1 gun-missile short-range air defense systems.