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Full Text of Letter to Powell on Kuchma’s Iraqi Arms Deal

October 24, 2002

The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are deeply troubled by recently published information making it clear that Ukrainian President Leonid D. Kuchma gave his personal approval for the sale of sophisticated military equipment to Iraq. His action makes a mockery of international efforts to isolate Saddam Hussein’s outlaw regime while, of course, significantly increasing the risk to U.S. and U.K. military personnel who are currently policing the “no-fly” zones and may be called upon to conduct additional operations against Iraq.

It is difficult to see Mr. Kuchma’s approval of this sale as anything other than a hostile and reckless act presumably undertaken for personal financial gain. Such criminal conduct by the leader of a country that has been a major beneficiary of U.S. political support and financial assistance is outrageous and demands a clear and firm response from the Administration.

In her testimony to the Commission on October 10, Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Jones informed us that, in Kyiv, she recently conveyed to President Kuchma the Administration’s great unhappiness with his behavior. Apparently he did not dispute the authenticity of the evidence, as he has done previously, but insisted that the equipment in question had never been delivered. Ms. Jones told us that a team of U.S. and British experts would soon visit Ukraine in an attempt to ascertain whether Mr. Kuchma’s assertions are true.

While we support sending this team of investigators, particularly given the threat to our military personnel, we feel that stronger action is warranted to demonstrate to Mr. Kuchma, as well as to other foreign officials, that such reckless and criminal behavior will have the most serious consequences. As an initial step, we urge that the Department of State establish an inter-agency group to develop concrete measures focused on the Ukrainian leader, members of the presidential administration, and other state officials. Among other things, such a group should closely examine any financial benefit Mr. Kuchma or his associates might have derived from this sale, money laundering schemes, as well as any other possible illegal activities. We further urge that the United States initiate contacts with foreign governments in an attempt to identify the money trail from sales to Iraq or possible sales to other rogue regimes. In addition, we believe official contacts with Mr. Kuchma should be kept to an absolute minimum and be conducted at the lowest possible levels.

Mr. Secretary, while we continue to endorse strong U.S. support for Ukraine and its people, given the evidence at hand it is hard to see how we might resume a normal relationship with Mr. Kuchma or place our faith in any assurances he might offer us. We believe that U.S. policy toward Ukraine must be crafted with these goals in mind. Sincerely,

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