TEHRAN // Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday denied reports that his country is violating United Nations sanctions against Iran by buying arms from the Islamic Republic.
Baghdad has been under pressure from Washington, the largest supplier of weapons to Iraq, since reports of a weapons deal emerged this week.
“Iraq’s ministry of defence on Tuesday issued a statement denying reports that the country had signed contracts to buy weapons, ammunition or other military equipment from Iran,” Mr Zebari said during a press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif. “Iraq respects UN resolutions and regulations and our Iranian friends also understand Iraq’s situation.”
On Monday, Reuters reported that Iran and Iraq signed a pact in November 2013 that would send arms and ammunition from Iran to Iraq worth around $195 million (Dh716 million).
The report was based on documents obtained by Reuters.
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaifar, also denied the reports.
The report came as Iran and six world powers are negotiating a long-term agreement over Tehran’s nuclear programme, which they hope will end crippling sanctions that has decimated its economy.
The Iranian government, led by moderate president Hassan Rouhani, is seeking to renew economic ties with countries and has been promoting foreign investment.
All Iran’s neighbours in the Gulf “must know that our government is dedicated to interaction and friendship with neighbours, specifically our southern neighbours,” Mr Rouhani said yesterday in Jask, a coastal city that lies just east of the Strait of Hormuz.
Mr Rouhani added, “Iran’s policy with our southern neighbours is to seek a secure region for investment through better interaction and relation with them.”
On Tuesday, Hasan Suneid, a senior lawmaker who heads the Iraqi parliament’s security and defence committee, said Iraq had bought “light weapons and ammunition” from Iran and insisted this was within its right and violated no international sanctions.
* With additional reporting by Reuters