BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Belarus denies selling Iraq weapons
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
Lukashenko says weapons sales are strictly controlled

Belarus has angrily reacted to accusations of helping Iraq procure weapons systems in violation of the United Nations sanctions.

The former Soviet republic has been named in several reports as one of the suppliers of sensitive materials and technologies to Saddam Hussein.


Our country doesn't have the clout to defy the international community, and we simply don't have weapons of mass destruction

President Alexander Lukashenko
Interviewed by the BBC the Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko emphatically denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Lukashenko looked visibly angry when told that his country was accused of aiding and abetting Iraq in its efforts to create weapons of mass destruction.

He lambasted the West for what he called "thoughtless and senseless statements".

He said Belarus had very good relations with Iraq, but entirely within the framework of the UN sanctions regime.

"Our country doesn't have the clout to defy the international community, and we simply don't have weapons of mass destruction. Belarus is advanced in optics, mathematics and electronics, without which no weapons are possible. We supply these products all over the world, with the exception of Iraq. Can you guarantee that our binoculars sold to a British company won't end up in a problem country?"

Strict controls

Alexander Lukashenko said that, before he was elected president in 1994, Belarus had been selling off stockpiles of Soviet arms to obscure customers.

But he boasted of setting up a system which requires approval of four committees to sell, as he put it, even a single bullet.

He expressed his frustration with the UN sanctions, though, saying they were holding back Belarussian exports to Iraq.

Having been ostracised by the West for his authoritarian rule, Minsk is looking to the Middle East for business opportunities.

Some of these exchanges may be a bit sensitive, says the head of a Belarussian think tank Leonid Zaiko.

"Some of the Belarussians, especially scientific research specialist take part in this programme for training in Arabic countries, in Iraq especially. In our military complex they usually have specialists in the anti-missiles systems," Mr Zaiko says.

Minsk has seen several high level Iraqi delegations in recent months.

Officially, they discussed trade and scientific exchanges worth millions of dollars.

One of the delegations was led by the Iraqi Minister for Military Industrialisation.

This alone may send alarm bells ringing in Washington and London.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov
Lukashenko: "We simply don't have weapons of mass destruction"

Main stories

Background

Analysis

IN PICTURES

TALKING POINT

FORUM

THE IRAQ DOSSIER
See also:

24 Sep 02 | Politics
22 Jun 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
23 Sep 02 | Panorama
11 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Sep 02 | Middle East
23 Sep 02 | Europe
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes