Eurocopter denies illegal sales to Iraq

 - January 23, 2008, 10:24 AM
Eurocopter has denied a report in the March 7 Washington Times that it sent spare parts to Iraq for its Gazelle military helicopters. A Eurocopter spokesman told AIN that since August 1990, the Marseilles, France-based helicopter manufacturer has “strictly observed the terms of United Nations resolution 661,” embargoing the export of military goods to Iraq. The spokesman said that French spare-parts exports must be authorized under the country’s strict AEMG procedure and strongly insisted that since the passage of resolution 661 “no spare parts have been delivered to Iraq.”

In the newspaper article, entitled “Iraq strengthens air force with French parts,” author Bill Gertz cites a U.S. intelligence official who claims that a “French company has been selling spare parts, including goods for Iraq’s French-made Mirage F.1 jets and Gazelle attack helicopters, to Iraq for its fighter jets and military helicopters during the past several months.” According to the report, the unidentified company sold the parts to Dubai, UAE-based Al Tamoor Trading, which then shipped them into Iraq by truck from a neighboring country. In his story, the writer said the alleged company could not be reached for comment.

Gertz wrote that the “intelligence official said the illegal spare-parts pipeline was discovered in the past two weeks and that sensitive intelligence about the transfers indicates that the parts were smuggled to Iraq as recently as January.” The intelligence reports did not identify the French company involved in selling the aircraft parts or whether the parts were new or used. Further, the official said intelligence reports of the parts sale did not indicate that the activity was sanctioned by the French government or that Paris knew of the transfers.

According to the Washington Times article, French Embassy press counselor Nathalie Loiseau said her government has no information about the spare-parts smuggling and has not been approached by the U.S. government about the matter. “We fully comply with the U.N. sanctions, and there is no sale of any kind of military material or weapons to Iraq,” she asserted.