A new shipment of Chinese-made arms, including Badger bombers and Silkworm missiles, has arrived in Iraq, according to Pentagon sources.
The supplies complete a large new order of arms purchased from the Chinese at a time when the Iran-Iraq war is accelerating, sources said.
The arms shipment also raised new concerns for U.S. officials seeking a cease-fire and planning to begin escorting Kuwaiti ships under U.S. flags through the Persian Gulf next month.
Intelligence reports show that the latest shipment to Iraq includes four Chinese-made Badger bombers and 30 Silkworm missile crates, sources said. The Silkworms, they added, are believed to be for launching from Badger bombers. That version has a range of 60 miles, sources said. They said the shipment "completes a big order" of Chinese-made arms that have been arriving in Iraq for several months.
The four new bombers would give the Iraqis significantly more muscle for their small heavy-bomber force of about 17 airplanes, according to the internationally published "The Balance of Military Power" defense almanac.
China, a major supplier of arms to both Iraq and Iran, recently informed the U.N. Security Council that it is ready to support a U.S.-backed resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq war, U.S. officials have said.
China consistently has denied that it sells arms to Iran, but Reagan administration officials recently accused China of selling Iran 30 ground-based Silkworm missiles capable of damaging ships in the Persian Gulf.
U.S. officials have alleged that last year China became Iran's largest source of weapons.
Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week that he has discussed with administration officials the possibility of blocking a major U.S. avionics sale to China if that country continues to supply Silkworm missiles to Iran.
A recent report compiled by the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency estimated that China sold Iraq $3.1 billion and Iran $575 million in arms between 1981 and 1985.