Iraq Buys Satellite
'Targeting' Photos
From Russia
LONDON (Reuters) - A British newspaper said on Sunday that Iraq had signed an agreement to buy satellite intelligence photographs from Russian firms that would enable it to target missiles at neighboring Arab Gulf states.
The photographs also increased the Iraqi threat to British and U.S. warplanes enforcing no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, The Sunday Telegraph said.
Iraq took possession last month of the first 70 digital satellite images of the Gulf region under an initial deal worth 200,000 pounds ($330,000), it said.
They were delivered to Baghdad last month on a CD-Rom under a deal that was finalized when an Iraqi delegation visited Moscow's annual international air show. The Sunday Telegraph said it had seen documents showing that the main contract was signed with the Russian company NPO Mashinostroyenia which specializes in satellite imagery.
"Under the terms of the initial deal, the company has agreed to provide Iraq with 220 high and medium-resolution images of Iraq's immediate neighbors, in particular Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria," the newspaper said.
"The Iraqis are in negotiations with a number of Russian firms to buy an advanced computer system which would enable them to hit targets with accuracy," it added.
"But Western intelligence experts fear that the contract could be extended to take in more sensitive targets such as Israel and British and American military positions in the region, which are being used to enforce Iraq's no-fly zone," the newspaper added.
It did not reveal its source for the information.
"But defense analysts believe the photographs will greatly improve the ability of the Iraqi armed forces to target neighboring countries," the newspaper said.
It quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying: "Apart from giving the Iraqis the capability to target neighboring countries, it will also enable them to pose a more serious challenge to British and American attempt to enforce the no-fly zone.
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