US presses Iraq on reports of arms deal with Iran
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US presses Iraq on reports of arms deal with Iran

State Department says that if true, matter would raise 'serious concerns'

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, center, walks with ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in Washington, DC, Wednesday (photo credit: AP/Molly Riley)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, center, walks with ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in Washington, DC, Wednesday (photo credit: AP/Molly Riley)

WASHINGTON — The United States pressed Iraq Monday to explain media reports that it had signed a contract to buy arms from Iran, a move forbidden under a United Nations embargo.

“We’ve certainly seen those reports. If true, this would raise serious concerns,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

A deal signed in November in which Iraq would buy $195 million in arms from Iran was reported by Reuters in Baghdad Monday.

Psaki said that “any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation” of the UN embargo.

“We are seeking clarification on this matter from the government of Iraq and to ensure that Iraqi officials understand the limits that international law places on arms trade with Iran,” she added.

The contract with Iran would have been signed just after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Washington requesting American military aid in fighting al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups.

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