Iraq denies Chinese technical help with air defences

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Fri Feb 23 05:26:14 MST 2001


Thursday
22 February 2001

Iraq denies Chinese technical help with air defences
BAGHDAD: Iraq on Wednesday denied that Chinese technicians were in the
country working to boost anti-aircraft defences as reported by the US
defence department. "There are no Chinese experts working in the field of
telecommunications in Iraq," said the secretary of state for
telecommunications, Jamil Ibrahim Ali, quoted by the official news agency
INA.
The Pentagon has said last week's US and British air raids on radar and
command centres around Baghdad were due in part to Chinese construction of
an underground fibre optic network that would have boosted Iraq's ability to
target allied planes. "These are cheap lies. And it can be checked with the
Chinese government," Ali said.
China's foreign ministry has also denied the Pentagon's report. Ali added
that all the telecoms contracts Iraq sealed under the UN-supervised
oil-for-food programme with international companies "including French,
Chinese and Russian ... have been totally suspended for the moment, as
everyone knows, including the Americans." "These contracts involve various
civil telecommunications equipment, including fibre optic cables ... and
have been approved by a team of UN experts," he said.
The UN team "has defined the minimum ceiling for the necessary requirements
in Iraq's civil telecommunications sector to prevent its collapse" from a
lack of spare parts. Iraqi technicians "have contributed by their own means
to rebuilding the telephone and telecoms networks, destroyed in the (1991
Gulf) war" over Kuwait, Ali said. "These networks have nothing to do with
the infrastructure of the anti-aircraft defences or any other military
sector."
The February 16 raids over Baghdad by US and British planes left three dead
and 30 others wounded, Iraqi officials said. (AFP)

For reprint rights:Times Syndication Service








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