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The following article by the foreign secretary appeared in the Guardian
today (Friday 20th Feb.) It is followed by some comments of mine, sourced,
mainly,from Geoff Simons book "The Scourging of Iraq" and the Iraq Action
Coalition's web-site.


%%%%%%%%%%%%%% SADDAM IS TO BLAME by ROBIN COOK %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Kofi Annan arrives in Baghdad today. He carries with him all our hopes for
peace. None of us wants to use force. We would gladly stand our military
down if we could find a peaceful and workable agreement with Saddam
Hussein. We are keeping the door to peace open as wide as possible for as
long as we can. 

Maggie O'Kane told the story in yesterday's Guardian of Kena Azar, a six-
month-old Iraqi boy suffering from a plague borne on a sand-fly. She used
his sad story to argue that the sanctions regime on Iraq should be torn
down. But the sanctions regime does not prevent medicines or food from
getting to the Iraqi people. Imports of food and medicine have never been
banned. In fact the reverse is true. Ever since sanctions were last 
imposed, Britain has led efforts to ensure that the impact on the Iraqi
people was
minimized, and that the impact on the regime maximized. In 1991 we tabled
a UN Resolution allowing Iraq to sell oil in
return for humanitarian supplies. It was Saddam who refused to implement
it. We tried again later that year with another resolution. Again the UN
adopted it and Saddam ignored it.

In 1995 we tried again, passing oil-for-food Resolution 986. This allows
Iraq to see $2 billion of oil every six months, and spend the proceeds not
just on food and medicines, but also on water and sanitation equipment,
and on tasks like mine clearance in agricultural areas. These are the
things that could make a real difference to the lives of children like
Kena. They have not done so, because Saddam has consistently blocked the
UN's attempts to help his people. The Iraqi government rejected Resolution
986 for over a year. For months afterwards they prevented its
implementation. And when they did sell oil, and got the proceeds to help
the Iraqi people, Saddam used the money to lower by an equivalent amount
his government's own welfare spending. Each family's ration of baby milk
was actually reduced - and so canned baby milk is now piled up in Iraq's

The inescapable conclusion is that Saddam has no regard for the plight of
his own own people. He has consistently rejected all the UN's attempts to
help, and instead prefers to use their suffering as another tool in his
vast propoganda strategy. He spends vast sums on his weapons programmes ,
diverting huge amounts into vast complexes like the Al Hakam plant, 18
square kilometers in size, which was found to be producing anthrax rather
than the animal feed he had claimed. He has spent at least $1 billion on
dozens of presidential palaces. He and his family live a life of luxury,
in stark contrast to the avoidable misery of his own people.

At the end of the Gulf War Saddam pledged to destroy his chemical and
biological weapons, and to let UN inspectors verify this. For the past
seven years he has systematically deceived and obstructed those
inspectors, while continuing his efforts to rebuild an arsenal of weapons
that could wipe out cities. Four out of five of their inspections have
been blocked or delayed. Large quantities of the ingredients for chemical
and biological weapons are still unaccounted for. If Saddam had fulfilled
his pledges, then sanctions would have been lifted long ago. But his
weapons programme matters far more to him than his people.

Saddam Hussein's writ does not not run in Northern Iraq, and it is no
accident that the people there are hugely better off. Not only do they
have access to the food and medicine denied to the rest of the Iraqi
people, but the international community has been able to work actively to
help them. British Aid is able to work for the people directly, through
British NGO's like Save the Children and the Mines Advisory Group. It is
making a massive difference to their lives, from providing hospital
equipment to rebuilding the villages Saddam tried to destroy. It is giving
back to the people of Northern Iraq the chance to be healthy and
self-sufficient. The contrast with the rest of the country could not be

A resolution drafted by Britain goes before the Security Council today,
more than doubling the size of the oil-for-food programme from $2 billion
to over $5 billion. It contains safeguards to make sure the extra money
actually helps the Iraqi people. It could pay for the food and medicines
that the Iraqi people need so badly. It could restore clean water and
proper sanitation to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, restore electricity
to their homes and help their farmers increase their output. If Saddam
accepts the resolution, sad stories like that of Kena Azar can become part
of Iraq's ragic history. If he does not, then the Iraqi people will know
exactly who to blame.


Some comments:

>"But the sanctions regime does not prevent medicine or food from getting
>to the Iraqi people." 

FALSE. Here is a (partial) list of items for
Iraq that have been vetoed by the UN sanctions committee:

baby food (vetoed by the US representative on 7th September on the
grounds that it might be consumed by adults)


water purification chemicals

medical swabs

medical gauze

medical syringes

medical journals

drugs for agina

musteen cancer drug


catheters for babies

NO cylinders for women in labour

dialysis equipment

other items that have been vetoed include:

children's clothes

school books

shroud material


sanitary towels

toilet paper.

Only last week, two British activists who flew out to Jordan with bags
containing antibiotics intended for the people of Iraq.
They had informed the DTI as to the nature of the drugs involved and  
their intent. The Government confiscated the medicines.

> "Imports of foods and medicines have never been banned"

This may be technically true but is irrelevant.

For starters the blockade
has deprived Iraq of the *means* to buy food and medicines (through the
sale of it's oil).

 Secondly the way in which the sanctions regime is set
 means that anyone who wishes to send goods into Iraq has to apply for a
licence through the DTI. This application is then processed (the first
source of delay) and then sent to the UN Iraq Sanctions Committee in New
York. Any of the fifteen members that sit on the Committee can block or
delay an application by requesting further information - a deliberate
recipe for procrastination. The meetings of the Committee are held in
closed session and at no fixed times. Decisions cannot be openly debated
or questioned - Iraq is allowed no voice in these proceedings. The
quickest decisions that result in approval take several months, others
much longer.

Thirdly, many pharmaceutical companies, often intimidated by Washington,
refused to supply their products to Iraq, even when notional permission
was granted by the Committee. 

In practice the (token) legal exemptions covering "supplies intended
strictly for medical purposes" (Resolution 661) have been ignored. In one
case over 50
separate consignments of medicines and thousands of
tons of infant formula and milk powder, purchased by the Iraqi Government
before August 1990, were held by Governments that refused to authorise

> In 1991 we tabled a UN Resolution allowing Iraq to sell oil in return
> for humanitarian supplies.

This was Resolution 706 (15th August 1991) whose real purpose was to keep
the embargo intact
whilst providing a propaganda weapon that could be used to demonstrate the
UN's humanitarian concern. In an unguarded moment a Bush administration
official told the New York Times 
that Resolution 706 was "a good way to mantain the bulk of sanctions and
not be on the wrong side of a potentially emotional issue" - the
"potentially emotional issue" being the starvation of the Iraqi civilian

Resolution 706 allowed for sales of Iraqi oil, subject to the approval by
the Sanctions Committee, to produce revenues not to exceed 1.6 billion
dollars which were to be paid into a UN-adminstered escrow account. Only a
small proportion was used for Iraqi
humanitarian purposes. The rest was used for various other purposes such
as paying for UN activities. 
Were Iraq to have accepted the "trusteeship" entailed by the scheme it
would have been left to the Sanctions Committee to
allocate the realised sums for "humanitarian need" - the same committee
that had denied Iraq access to disinfectants, sanitary towels and glue for
school textbooks. Predictably rejected the offer.

There followed Resolution 712 (19 September 1991) and 986 (14 April 1995).
Only 40 percent of the proceeds of the "oil-for-food" deal (986) can be
used to purchase medicine for the populations of central and southern
Iraq. In November 1997 UNICEF stated that "there is no sign of improvement
since Security Council Resolution 986 came into force".

> He [Saddam] spends vast sums on his weapons programmes...

Trident ? "Will work for food".

> If Saddam had fulfilled his pledges, then sanctions would have been
> lifted a long time ago.

On 10 May 1991 Prime Minister John Major, in a speech to the Scottish
Conservative Party Conference, declared that Britain would veto any UN
attempt to weaken sanctions against Iraq "for so long as Saddam Hussein
remains in power".

He was echoed in this on 20 May 1991 by President Bush who stated that
there would be no end to the trade embargo "as long as Saddam Hussein is
in power".

> " A Resolution goes before the Security Council today, more than
>doubling the oil-for-food programme from $2 billion to over $5 billion.
> It could pay for the food and medicines that the Iraqi people need so
>badly. It could restore clean water and proper sanitation to hundreds of
>thousands of Iraqis, restore electricity to their homes and help their
>farmers increase their output.

Dennis Halliday, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, stated on
12th January 1998 that Iraq would need in the neighbourhood of $30
billion/year to meet its current requirements for food, medicine and
infrastructure. The UN's own agencies report that increasing the
oil-for-food deal will allow Iraqis to increase their caloric intake to
60% of the average Americans - totally inadequate to meet the current
needs of the Iraqi civilians.

Who's to blame ? Brutal tyrant that he is it wasn't Saddam who targeted
and destroyed Iraq's
electric power stations, water treatment facilities, food processig
plants, irrigation sites, sewage treatment plants, hospitals and clinics, 
telephone exchanges and perhaps as many as 20 000 homes, apartments and
other dwellings. It also wasn't Saddam who left 40 tons of Uranium on the
Gulf "war" battlefields. Enough, according to the Atomic Energy Authority,
to cause "500,000 potential deaths".

 A 1993 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Mission reported that
Iraq was a country "whose economy has been devastated by the recent war
and subsequent civil strife, but above all by the continued sanctions
since August 1990, which have virtually paralyzed the whole economy and
generated persistent deprivation, chronic hunger, endemic undernutrition,
massive unemployment and widespread human suffering".

These words remain true to this day and, as Mr Cook says, the Iraqi people
know exactly who to blame.

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