- 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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