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Article in todays FT (17th June).


Iraqi deal with UN hailed. 

By Roula Khalaf in Baghdad.

Iraq yesterday welcomed the two-month work schedule agreed with United
Nations inspectors to clear up reamining disarmament issues and pledged to
continue its co-operation.

Tariq Aziz, deputy prime minister, said: "In a sense it is a breakthrough.
It is specific in its nature, very precise...We have always complained
that Unscom did not specify exactly, precisely, what are, in their view,
the few remaining issues before closing all the files."

He said the accord, reached last weekend with Richard Butler, the chief UN
weapons inspector, was the result of international pressure for a lifting
of the crippling United Nations sanctions.

Mr Butler said on Monday he hoped the deal on a speedy work programme
would allow him to present a final report on Iraq's disarmament to the
Security Council for its October review of sanctions and pave the way toa
lifting of the oil embargo. But diplomats in Baghdad said yesterday that
this might be unrealistic, given the scope of the remaining task,
especially on Iraq's biological weapons programme. Iraqi officials also
cautioned that, given Unscom's past behaviour in Iraq, they would wait to
see whether or the work programme produces concrete results. Seven years
of inspections have been marred by Unscom accusations that Iraq was
concealing information and Iraqi charges that Unscom was following a
political agenda aimed at maintaining sanctions. Mr Aziz said the
importance of the agreement was that it outlined for the first time in
precise terms the remaining concerns of Unscom. He said a more practical
approach was agreed to advance on the biological weapons file, the area
where Unscom still lacked a coherent picture of Iraq's development

The agreement was reached amid renewed tensions between the US and Iraq.
Baghdad has threatened to stop co-operation with the UN oil-for-food
programme if a draft resolution adding conditions to Iraq's bid to buy
$300 m (182.9 m pounds) of oil industry spare parts and equipment is
passed by the security council.

The funds are needed to meet the expanded oil-for-food programme, which
now allows Iraq to sell $4.5 bn of oil every six months to buy
humanitarian supplies. The draft resolution, sponsored by Portugal, Sweden
and Britain, approves tehe $300m purchase but also seeks to make the
oil-for-food plan Iraq has to submit before the start of every six-month
phase ongoing rather than renegotiated every six months. This would speed
up implementation of the programme but is rejected by Iraq because it
turns oil-for-food into a permanent instead of temporary measure.

"They want to make oil-for-food a substitute for lifting sanctions," Mr
Aziz said yesterday. "It is an American ploy and we will not accept to
work with it".


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