Tags: Ukraine | Russians | Sent | Missiles | China | Iran

Ukraine, Russians Sent Missiles to China, Iran

Wednesday, 06 April 2005 12:00 AM

According to Omelchenko, the weapons were under the control of the Ukraine Defense Ministry during the administration of President Leonid D. Kuchma. Officials have said the Ukrainian government had nothing to do with the sale of the weapons, but Ukrainian judicial officials have admitted the sales took place.

The Olmelchenko letter outlines an "elaborate plan" by "members of Ukraine's intelligence service and two Russians" to sell the missiles, the Washington Times reported. At least six weapons apiece were allegedly sold to Beijing and Tehran; the whereabouts of the remaining eight missiles are unknown. Omelchenko said the sales were arranged through Russian state arms-export company Rosvoorouzhenie, and the Ukrainian export company UkrSpetzExport.

The Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times, meanwhile, report that 18 of the missiles were delivered in all; 12 to Iran and six to China. Before now, Iran was not thought to have obtained cruise missiles.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Granit was developed by Russia and put into service in the mid-1980s. It is comparable to the U.S. AGM-86 ALCM, and is nuclear-capable. The Web site says the weapon, when in Russian service, carried a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead, and has a range of about 1,850 miles – for Iran, long enough to strike parts of Israel.

GS.org also said the former Soviet Union forward-deployed the missile in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, though Ukraine supposedly sent 575 of the missiles back to Russia in 1999, as part of a repayment of debt on deliveries of natural gas.

The WashTimes said the Russians were paid $600,000 to deliver the missiles to China, which they did through several U.S., Cypriot and Hungarian front companies in 2000. A year later, Iran reportedly paid $49.5 million for its shipment.

Several of the figures allegedly involved in the plot have since perished, said the WashTimes. Three have been killed in automobile accidents; one Russian, O.H. Orlov, is being detained in the Czech Republic; and the second Russian, E.V. Shelenko, is being sought, the paper said, quoting Omelchenko's letter.

News of the deal comes as U.S. military planners express growing concern about new emerging threats from nations possessing increasingly sophisticated cruise missiles.

A policy brief by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and authored by John Mahnken of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies "highlights the attractiveness of cruise missiles to potential aggressors and terrorists, given their relatively small size, effectiveness and economical cost," says an analysis by the American Foreign Policy Center.

But, the research paper says, so far the U.S. hasn't paid much attention to developing a defense against the weapons.

"It appears that a sustained investment in cruise missile defense can pay dividends," said industry weekly "Inside The Army," which quoted the findings of researchers.

"Unless the United States fields such an architecture, it is likely that its air and missile defenses will become increasingly ineffective," the weekly reported.

Others have taken notice. AFPC reports that the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, is currently analyzing potential "gaps" in U.S. missile defenses.

"Findings from the study are expected to be sent to the Pentagon at the end of April," AFPC reported.

In summing up the danger of the weapons, the Los Angeles Times reported they are designed to deliver payloads "at altitudes too low to be detected by radar," adding that the sales amount to "a significant leak of Soviet-era weapons technology."

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According to Omelchenko, the weapons were under the control of the Ukraine Defense Ministry during the administration of President Leonid D. Kuchma. Officials have said the Ukrainian government had nothing to do with the sale of the weapons, but Ukrainian judicial officials...
Ukraine,,Russians,Sent,Missiles,China,,Iran
565
2005-00-06
Wednesday, 06 April 2005 12:00 AM
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