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Experts: Russia helped Iraq with missiles
Updated: 2004-03-06 08:40

Weapons-hunters in Iraq have found evidence that experts from Russia and other countries helped with Iraq's missile programs, but it is unclear whether those countries' governments played any role, U.S. officials said Friday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Bush administration will compile information it has obtained and eventually present it to those countries. In addition to Russia, officials found signs that experts from Ukraine, Serbia and Belarus may have been involved.

It may be that the alleged assistance came from companies or individuals who came to Iraq without the knowledge or sanction of their home governments, the officials said.

Still, any such assistance would violate the prewar U.N. sanctions that prohibited foreign weapons aid to deposed President Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the officials said. They provided no details on what was discovered or the nature of the technical help.

The information found in Iraq was first reported Friday in The New York Times.

Of all the prewar intelligence assessments regarding Iraq's illicit weapons programs, so far the predictions regarding long-range missile efforts have found the most validation.

"Since the war we have found an aggressive Iraqi missile program concealed from the international community," CIA Director George J. Tenet said in a speech last month.

Previously, officials had said Iraq's missile dealings primarily involved North Korea . Last year, then-chief weapons hunter David Kay said Pyongyang and Baghdad had negotiated for the sale of missile technology.

It appears that North Korea kept an Iraqi down payment of $10 million but never delivered any parts from its No Dong class of ballistic missiles, Kay said.

According to Tenet, Iraq had advanced design work for a liquid-propellant missile with ranges of up to 620 miles and was working on other kinds of missiles. Since the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq has been prohibited from having missiles with ranges longer than 93 miles.

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