“Some Ethiopian colonel reports…”

PRAVDA.Ru correspondent in Ukraine Alexander Gorobets comments on investigation of “Hauberk” radar systems’ fate in the East.

Regardless of the fact, whether the Ukrainian leadership wants or not, people in the country are still concerned about the problem of passive radar systems allegedly sold to Iran. Publications on the subject appear every day. In most cases these are reprints from foreign mass media. Recently, TV channels have joined discussion of the problem. However, as all media are owned by the government or oligarchs who support President Leonid Kuchma, they support the line that is very convenient for the government.

The other day Ukrainian media published a message from Ethiopia. Some colonel, who claims to be commander of the Ethiopian armament arsenal, sent a fax to Kiev to confirm, the three radar systems bought from Ukraine were still in the right place, in the country. The faxed message had official stamps on. All TV channels showed the document for people to see, the systems were not re-sold to Iran.

At the same time another information appeared: Ukraine’s General Office of Public Prosecutor is going “within the nearest time” to complete investigation of illegal weapon trade. The information was reported by Ukrainian deputy prosecutor Alexander Atamanyuk. In his words, the investigation is successfully proceeded with. He also mentioned, the investigation denied any accusations brought against the state.

At the same time staffer from the Alexander Razumkov Analytical center in Kiev, Nikolay Sungurovsky says: “There are lots of black spots and half-truth about the “Hauberk” case, that may equally testify both against, as well as to sale of the radar systems to Iraq. First, according to some documents, Ethiopia is not among purchasers of Ukrainian armament neither in 1999, nor in 2000. At the same time, the information is not complete, as the Ukrainian government presented official data of the armament export only once (in 1997). Second, Ethiopia’s end-user certificate is not a guarantee of observation of the export limiting requirements. Third, it was mentioned that only four systems had been produced at the plant (the fourth sample is in the Ukrainian army), but at the same time it was also said that it was possible to export unassembled systems (it proves to be a really popular method all over the world). So, we can suppose that probably subassembly of several “Hauberk” systems took place. If it was so, Iraq was to have been also supplied with very complex assembly systems. That is why it is hardly likely that “Hauberk” subassembly was performed in Iraq. But still, such possibility can not be ruled out.

And the last, according to some sources, international and national export control systems do not guarantee 100% realization of the UN Security Council’s resolutions. In this respect, Ukraine is in a nice place here.

You are sure to ask about America’s reaction to the problem. What did Washington reply?

It is said in an article written for Ukrainian pravda (Ukrainian truth) Internet newspaper: “Neither Armament committee of the US House of Representatives, nor Congress committee for security and European co-operation plan to initiate hearings concerning Ukrainian “Hauberk” passive radar systems allegedly supplied to Iraq.” Information was received from the committee and commission on the phone.

Other sources say, some US departments are getting more and more concerned about the problem. But the concern is based so far on the level of “previous meetings” concerning taped telephone talks of Maj.Melnichenko and confirmation of “Hauberk” presence in Iraq.

People concerned in Washington are unlikely to be satisfied with listening to Maj.Melnichenko’s tapes only. The major will probably soon leave for the USA for different consultations. His participation in the process will influence further development of the problem’s solution.

It is perfectly clear, nobody in Washington will rely on the tapes only. To initiate hearings as concerning such a complicated problem, evidence is to be collected with US technical devices. Data collection and processing may last for a very long period, because the US intelligence departments operate a bit slower than it is traditionally believed. There are lots of other “Saddam’s friends” for the USA to be concerned about besides Ukraine. If some hearing or briefing still takes place, Ukraine is to be presented at it together with another violator of the international sanction regime, Belarus.

If information about “Hauberks” being in Iraq is confirmed with US technical and other means, any kind of disagreeable consequences for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma may follow. For the time being, until facts are not confirmed, Leonid Kuchma is not allowed to leave the country.

Even if information about radar systems being in Iraq is disproved, the very fact of Kuchma’s telephone conversation with Ukrspezexport president Valery Malev on supposed “Hauberk” supplies to Iraq will mar his political image in the world. The USA and Europe will hardly like to meet with the president suspected of illegal weapon supplies.”

One thing is really strange about the whole story. Why do not president and military authorities, responsible for armament sales in Ukraine sit in front of TV cameras and tell the people: “Enough, stop talking about these “Hauberks”. Nobody sold them to Iraq. No UN sanctions were violated. Here are the documents to confirm.” However, President Kuchma does nothing of this kind. And people have to believe messages of some Ethiopian colonel.

Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev Ukraine

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/25/40313.html

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