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Iraqi Leaders Differ on Alleged Iran Weapons Transfer

An Iraqi tribesman patrols a street as part of a January operation against anti-government fighters in the city of Ramadi. Iraqi politicians gave conflicting statements this week on their country's alleged purchase of $195 million in arms and ammunition from Iran. An Iraqi tribesman patrols a street as part of a January operation against anti-government fighters in the city of Ramadi. Iraqi politicians gave conflicting statements this week on their country's alleged purchase of $195 million in arms and ammunition from Iran. (Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images)

An alleged move by Iraq to acquire $195 million in Iranian weapons and ammunition elicited conflicting responses from Iraqi politicians, Reuters reports.

The claim prompted a denial from the Iraqi Defense Ministry, but parliament member Hasan Suneid said Baghdad had acquired "some light weapons and ammunition" from Iran, the wire service reported on Tuesday.

"The U.S. government is not the Iraqi government's guardian," said Suneid, who heads the Iraqi legislature's security and defense committee. "We have the right to buy arms from any state."

White House spokesman Jay Carney, though, reaffirmed U.S. warnings that an Iranian arms transfer would contravene a U.N. sanctions regime targeting the Persian Gulf power over its disputed nuclear activities. The international measures are aimed at pressuring Tehran to curb atomic efforts that Washington and other governments fear to be geared toward development of a bomb capability.

Carney said Obama officials have taken up the alleged sale with the "highest levels" of Iraq's leadership, and Baghdad "assured us they would look into the matter."

The Iraqi Embassy in Washington on Tuesday said the Iranian Defense Industries Organization had competed with firms from other countries to sell Iraq "some ammunition for light weapons and night vision equipment."

"Preference was given to other companies and no contract was signed with the Iranian company," the embassy said in a statement.

A Monday news report said Baghdad signed six deals with that firm, as well as two additional agreements with Iran Electronic Industries.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Republican senators pushed on Tuesday to attach an Iran sanctions proposal to domestic policy legislation, Reuters reported.

Tehran insists its atomic ambitions are peaceful, and has warned that any new sanctions could derail a multilateral effort to clear up suspicions over its atomic efforts. President Obama has threatened to veto any new punitive Iran measures passed by Congress in coming months.

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