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By Deirdre Griswold

While international grassroots efforts are successfully challenging the
U.S.-dictated sanctions on Iraq, at the United Nations Security Council
Wash ington's strong-arm tactics have resulted in yet another extension of
the murderous restrictions. 

On April 27, the sanctions were extended by the Security Council without
even a vote being taken. Although Russia, France and People's China have
all voiced their reservations, none was willing to take on U.S.
imperialism, which has bared its fangs many times over the oil-rich Middle
East, or its British junior partner. 

The excuses for the sanctions become more flimsy by the hour.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a report saying it found
no evidence that Iraq is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iraq has
allowed in UN weapons inspectors, who visited eight previously off-limits
presidential sites and reported that they found no banned weapons.

But none of this satisfies Washington. Now it is arguing that Iraq must
allow the inspections to go on forever. 

The U.S. corporate media are doing their best to make Washington's
position sound reasonable. The latest argument is that thousands of
children are dying in Iraq not because of the sanctions but because the
Iraqi government is building luxurious palaces. 

Iraq has built palaces for 5,000 years. The construction uses native
materials and labor that otherwise would be idle. This has nothing to do
with the hunger and disease now gripping the population. Before the Gulf
war and sanctions, the Iraqi people were well fed and had the best health
system in the Arab world. 

But the war destroyed Iraq's infrastructure. The sanctions prohibit
ordinary chemicals like chlorine for purifying water, fertilizers and
pesticides, as well as machinery and spare parts for the irrigation

Making matters worse, Iraq was able to sell less than $2 billion worth of
oil last year. Oil is its main export. The currency for almost anything
Iraq needs to import comes from oil revenues. Much of its food and nearly
all its medicines must be imported. 

While the Security Council is now talking about "allowing"  Iraq to export
$5.25 billion in oil, it can't pump that much because its equipment is
breaking down and it can't get spare parts. And even if Iraq did earn
$5.25 billion, 30 percent of that has to be given to the rich little
kingdom of Kuwait under UN-dictated "reparations." 

Has Vietnam ever been awarded reparations for being invaded? Or Panama? Or

Before the war, Iraq sold $20 billion a year in oil. Now it's expected to
survive and repair the damage of war with less than a tenth that amount. 

No wonder a growing international movement has sprung up to end the
sanctions. Sanctions are genocide, an act of war by the rich and powerful
to crush any who dare to assert independence. 

                         - END -

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