Ukrainian “Hauberks” discovered in Ethiopia

PRAVDA.Ru correspondent in Kiev, Ukraine, Alexander Gorobets comments upon an international scandal:

Ukraine pays much attention to another “tape scandal” connected with Ukraine’s alleged sale of passive tracing radars of the “Hauberk” class to Iraq. Ukraine's opposition mass media reported on the deal last summer already; however, the problem did not draw considerable attention then. It wasn't until April 11, 2002 when the Grand Jury of San Francisco listened to the taped conversations of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and weapons dealer Valery Malev on the “Hauberk” sale to Iraq. The tapes were presented by a former security guard of the Ukrainian president. The sum of the deal made up $100 million.

It is quite natural that the state authorities took the president’s side. Every day, state ministries and departments announce statements in Kuchma’s support. They say the accusation is nonsense. For example, the Foreign Ministry says that Ukraine respects the UN resolutions, and the president is sure to be observing the resolutions. On the contrary, Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk said in his interview to Radio Liberty that Leonid Kuchma was the kind of a leader who can easily ignore any UN resolutions. The only thing he does is pursue of his own interests.

BBC Radio in Ukraine interviewed director of the Topaz armament plant in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk Yury Ryabkin. He, in his turn, denied any possibility of armament sales to Iraq. It is the Topaz plant that produces the unique “Hauberk” passive tracing radars mentioned in the accusations against Leonid Kuchma.

Yury Ryabkin said that the plant executed one contract only: three “Hauberk” systems were sold to Ethiopia, and one more system was sent given to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. The director of the plant said that the enterprise follows its technique, as it performs maintenance service, balancing and commissioning. Yury Ryabkin insists that the plant produced four systems only. He also says that the president could hardly discuss “Hauberk” sales to Iraq. In any case, if any conversation between Kuchma and Malev really took place, this could be a mere private talk without any subsequent implementation.

The “2000”, Kiev weekly is also an active supporter of President Kuchma. Moreover, it even held an independent investigation concerning the production of "Hauberks." It is of special interest that the head of the Ukrainian security service’s intelligence department Sergey Makarenko said that mediators were interested in “Hauberk” sales to Iraq. One of them (Makarenko did not want to mention the country) suggested to supply “Hauberk” systems to the Middle East. “When we realized it presupposed re-export, we imposed a veto on the delivery”, Sergey Makarenko said. It was also added that the ex-director of Ukrspezexport organization Valery Malev knew about the offer; moreover, a week before his death, he offered to take up the suggestion once again. Valery Malev supposed that the passive radar system was designed for defensive, not offensive operations, and the deal would be extremely profitable for Ukraine and its budget on the whole. However, Valery Malev said that no supplies were possible for the embargoed country. The possibility of supplies can be taken up once again when international sanctions against Iraq are lifted. In any case, the above-mentioned facts reveal that Kiev does not deny the very fact of possible talks with Valery Malev on “Hauberk” supplies to Iraq. Probably, this sheds some light on his mysterious death.

Currently, another weekly in Kiev, Zerkalo nedeli (Mirror of the week), is investigating the problem. It discovered that the prime cost of four “Hauberk” systems makes up $2.8 million only; the sale price is $5 million. However, in fact, Valery Malev mentioned $100 million that Iraq would pay for “Hauberk” supplies. The weekly reports in its turn, sales of any kinds of specialized goods presuppose mediators, who perform lots of functions: they find clients, organize meetings with the seller, and they also lobby the seller’s interests to the state authorities (no bribery can be avoided in transactions of this kind). Certainly, mediators distribute finances as well. Sometimes, mediators receive goods at understated prices from the selling country and sell them at much higher prices. Sometimes, the deal can be really very large. It is not a surprise that the four “Hauberk” systems at a $2.8 million cost and retail price of $5 million were about to be sold at $100 million. As a rule, the balance remains with the mediators and the budget gets nothing at all.

The weekly also wonders why Ethiopia needs Hauberks. This is a country that has practically no enemies to trace with passive radars in the sea and on land. Topaz representatives visited Ethiopia several times to negotiate “Hauberk” supplies. One of the trips was at the time when the UN security council’s embargo imposed by resolution 1298 on Ethiopia was in force. The exact terms of supplies to Ethiopia are to be found out to make sure that Ukraine broke no armament supply bans imposed on the country. If an international investigation is started, it will be necessary to verify the serial numbers of “Hauberks” supplied to Ethiopia and whether they correspond to the exports marks of the plant. Double supplies on the same contract may be revealed. Experts say that “Hauberk” systems of the previously manufactured type could cover an area of 300 km on land and 600 km in the air. New variants of the radars can cover up to 600 km on land and 800 km in the air. Which variants had been supplied to Ethiopia? Are the “Hauberks” in Ethiopia now? If necessary, Ukraine can present the end-user certificates to international experts. If the “Hauberk” systems were supplied to Iraq from Ethiopia, Ukraine had nothing to do with the transaction.

At the same time, Charles Duelfer, former UNSCOM deputy head, thinks that it is very likely that Saddam Hussein has received the “Hauberk”. In an interview to Radio Liberty, he said that, during work on Iraqi territories, the commission saw numerous important units that had been supplied to Iraq against the sanctions.

Charles Duelfer also mentioned that equipment of the “Hauberk” class was found at other places where UNSCOM worked. It is not ruled out that Iraq imported the systems. At the same time, he withheld comments on the origin of the conventional armament technique detected in Iraq. He mentioned that some modern US-made computers prohibited to Iraq were seen in the country. It is really very difficult to trace the ways of prohibited supplies to Iraq.

“We can not blame some producing countries for the fact that their armament is detected in Iraq. However, when it comes to military technology and weapons, all countries are to control and track the supplies to the ultimate users”, Charles Duelfer says.

A new UN commission for monitoring, control, and inspection in Iraq, UNMOVIC, took over the UNSCOM functions. The new commission was founded by the UN in 1999, when Saddam Hussein planned to throw UN armament experts out of Iraq. However, the new commission has not sent its experts to Iraq yet. The head of the commission says that he has no evidence of Ukrainian armament supplies to Iraq.

The “Hauberk” supplies story promises to be everlasting. It is more likely that a special commission for investigation of the case is to be soon created in the Ukrainian parliament. Nowadays, armament exports and imports are regulated by presidential and governmental acts. No basic law on juridical relations in the sphere has been passed yet. There is no independent control by the parliament. Ukrainian experts and journalists have no access to information about details given to international organizations. Transgressions with negative consequences are very likely under such conditions. The scandal with “Hauberk” systems demonstrates this.

Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev Ukraine

In the photo: Hauberk system produced by Topaz plant

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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