On 28 January 2005, Ukranian parliamentarian Hryhoriy Omelchenko issued an open letter to President Viktor Yushchenko that Ukraine had illegally sold cruise missiles to Iran. It's was a credible report, which names dates, names, the bank accounts, fictitious shell companies that were set up to extradite the transfer of money from Iran. Plus there was collaborating evidence to this whole affair. He refered to a paper company set up in Cyprus to channel money for the missiles.
Anti-corruption lawmaker Omelchenko was a ranking State Secret Services (SBU) officer and a deputy belonging to Yulia Tymoshenko's parliament faction. Omelchenko is the past head of the parliament's committee on combating organized crime and corruption and is also the Head of the Temporary Committee on Investigating the Murder of Georgiy Gongadze. He has requested that the Attorney General arrest Leonid Kuchma for his involvement with the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.
On 18 March 2005 "Financial Times" newspaper of Britain reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun had stated that Ukraine exported 12 cruise missiles to Iran and six to China in 2001. Piskun told the paper that none of the 18 X-55 cruise missiles (also known as Kh-55 or AS-15) was exported with the nuclear warheads they were designed to carry.
The newspaper said it was the first confirmation by a Ukrainian government official that the exports took place. The the X-55 has a range of 3,000 kilometers, more than enough to reach Israel from Iran. The US embassy in Kyiv is closely monitoring the investigation and wanted the findings of a reported secret trial over the missile exports to be made public.
The missiles themselves were not in very good shape, according to one US official. They were diverted from Soviet stocks left behind when the Ukraine declared its independence in 1991.
Prosecutors said the missiles were sold illegally, and were not exported by Ukrainian enterprises. Export documents known as end-user certificates recorded the recipient of the 20 Kh55 missiles as "Russia's Defense Ministry."
A government investigation into illicit weapons sales by officials loyal to former President Leonid Kuchma, who left office in January 2005, led to secret indictments or arrests arms dealers accused of selling missiles to Iran and China. At least three people were arrested and another three were indicted last year in connection with the illicit arms trade.
In 2000 Russian national Oleg Orlov and a Ukrainian partner identified as E.V. Shilenko exported 20 Kh55 cruise missiles through a fake contract and end-user certificate with Russia's state-run arms dealer and with a firm called Progress, a subsidiary company of Ukrspetseksport -- Ukraine's arms export agency. Orlov was detained 13 July 2004 in the Czech Republic, and as of early 2005 an extradition procedure was under way to return him to Ukraine for prosecution. Orlov and his partners were suspected of providing Iran with maintenance equipment and technicians to service the Kh-55 missiles.
Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun was chief prosecutor under Kuchma and retained his job after Yushchenko, a Kuchma opponent, came to power in January 2005. Legislator Hrihoriy Omelchenko dismissed the statement by prosecutors as a "political trick" by Piskun to keep his post in the face of calls by pro-Yushchenko legislators for his resignation.
Lawyer Bogdan Ferents defends in court the sole defendant in the case on the sale of the missiles, director-general of the company Ukrainaviazakaz Vladimir Yevdokimov. The Kh-55 cruise missiles delivered by Ukraine to Iran and China in 1999-2001 "are not weapons", Ferents said, adding that the missiles were not complete with parts.
The missiles delivered to third countries were manufactured in 1987, and had a service life of eight years. The lawyer maintained that storage of the missile did not meet standards since 1992. Former Air Force commander Viktor Strelnikov and specialists who examined the missiles said that they were marked with the inscription "training".
Jane's Intelligence Digest, published on 18 March 2005, noted: "There is no doubt that the sale of the missiles to Iran and China could only have taken place with the knowledge and cooperation of senior Ukrainian officials. ... there is ... mounting evidence to suggest that the sale of missiles to Iran was undertaken with the assistance of the Russian security services."
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