Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Source: Iran presses on Iraq to replace US weapons deal with French

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Baghdad, Feb. 8 (AKnews) - An Iraqi MP said Tuesday that Iran is pressing on the Iraqi government to revoke a US F16 fighters purchase deal to replace it with another deal to buy French-made Mirage fighters.f16

The accusation came after an Iraqi satellite TV channel, al-Sahrqiya, reported that the Iraqi government intended to cancel a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States.

According to Iraq's Defense Ministry, Iraq has a weapons deal with the US to purchase 18 F-16 fighting aircrafts  which are expected to be delivered by the end of 2013 in a move to enhance the air force abilities of the new army.

MP Iskandar Wattout, deputy head of the security committee in the Iraqi parliament, criticized Tuesday Iranian interventions in the Iraqi affairs saying threatening to launch an investigation with the Iraqi government if it so intended.

"The news of the Iraqi government intentions to cancel the purchase deal to replace (the US F-16s) with French-made Mirage came after Iranian pressure." said Mr Wattout.

"Iraq has signed agreements with neighboring countries, including Iran, not to interfere in the internal affairs (of Iraq) and respect the sovereignty of the country"

The F-16 Fighting Falcon, the first of the US Air Force multi-role fighter aircraft, is the world's most prolific fighter with more than 2,000 in service within the US Air Force and 2,000 operational in 25 other countries.

The F-16 and the F-15 Eagle were the world's first aircraft able to withstand higher g-forces than the pilots. The Fighting Falcon entered service in 1979.

"The F-16 planes have high qualities if compared to the French Mirage" says Wattout, "and they will be purchased to defend Iraq, and Iran should have no concerns about it"

AKnews tried to contact Mohammed al-Askeri, the spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, but he said he was ill. "I can not confirm or deny the story because of my absence from the ministry since a week due to illness"

Reported by Wissam al-Jaff
Tuesday, February 8th 2011 11:43 AM