BAGHDAD — Iraq has awarded a vital infrastructure contract to Iran
that could facilitate its military presence in a developoment that has alarmed the U.S.
The Iraqi Electricity Ministry has selected companies from China and
Iran to construct two power plants. The ministry said the awards totaled
$1.1 billion and would reduce the constant power outages in Baghdad.
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The award to Iran for the construction of a 160-megawatt power plant in
Baghdad's Sadr City has alarmed the U.S. military in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Military sources
said the U.S.-led coalition was concerned that Iran could use the $150
million project to significantly expand its intelligence and military
presence in Iraq.
Iran has sought to dominate Iraq's Shi'ite sector. Teheran has agreed to
provide cheap electricity from its own grid to Shi'ite areas of southern
Iraq. Iran has also offered to build a large power plant without cost to the
Baghdad government between the Shi'ite cities of Karbala and Najaf.
The Chinese power plant would be located in the Iraqi province of Wasit.
Officials said the 1,300 megawatt facility, awarded to China's Shanghai
Heavy Industry, would cost $940 million.