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New York Times, 17th June 1998. U.N. Aides Remain Wary on Iraq by BARBARA CROSSETTE. UNITED NATIONS -- Officials here cautioned on Tuesday that although the chief U.N. arms inspector succeeded at the weekend in setting a list of immediate goals for Iraq to meet before an eight-year embargo on oil sales could be lifted, other, more difficult, issues remained. Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's representative at the United Nations, said in an interview on Tuesday that the inspector, Richard Butler, had laid out in Baghdad exactly what Iraq needed to do to come into compliance with Security Council resolutions. Iraq welcomed the move, Hamdoon said, and has pledged cooperation. "He provided a final list, and that's important," Hamdoon said. "And they have agreed on a time frame for the different activities." But diplomats here and in the Middle East say Butler never intended to predict that by early August Iraq would meet the conditions for ending sanctions. The first assessment of Iraqi compliance will be made in August, almost exactly eight years after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions are due to be reviewed in October. There are now concerns among diplomats that Iraq will try to turn any cooperation into proof that it has met all demands, as it did when it allowed diplomats and inspectors to conduct pro forma inspections of presidential palaces earlier this year. U.N. officials said that in talks with the Iraqis last weekend Butler decided to focus over the next two months on straightforward disarmament measures -- the handing over of weapons parts still unaccounted for in biological, chemical and missile programs. This would set aside for later the larger questions of documentation involving areas of official decision-making, especially on Iraqi concealment policies, which inspectors say were deliberate attempts to confuse and confound their work. Also put aside for the moment are demands for proof that 300 tons of missile fuel has been destroyed, according to diplomats who spoke to Reuters in Baghdad. Butler's team has said the fuel was suitable only for Scud-type missiles. Iraq insists it has other uses. Bill Richardson, the U.S. representative at the United Nations, and other diplomats said Tuesday that the order in which Iraq approached its tasks did not change the reality that it had a way to go before it could resume selling oil, and even further to go before the broader trade embargo would be lifted completely. Iraq will also remain under international scrutiny for an indefinite period after sanctions are lifted. "In our view, based on UNSCOM's last briefing with the Security Council, Iraq has a long way to go to fully comply with the disarmament provisions relating to chemical and biological weapons," Richardson said in an interview, referring to the U.N. Special Commission, which Butler leads. The Iraqis are good at rhetoric about complying, but when it comes to fulfilling their commitments they are always woefully short. We don't expect the Butler road map to be met." Butler, who is on his way to Australia from the Middle East, was not available for comment Tuesday. Officials said that he would submit a report on his talks in Baghdad to the Security Council by the end of the week and that it would outline his program of action. It is expected to detail the timetable of action for the period before the next half-yearly sanctions review in October. On Tuesday, Iraqi officials said that Butler and UNSCOM had "finally shown flexibility," and they tried to turn Butler's more conciliatory, methodical approach into progress, if not victory, even in the most difficult area, biological weapons. "We agreed on a new approach, a practical approach, within the context of disarmament to address the biological file," Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi deputy prime minister who negotiates with Butler, said on Tuesday in Baghdad, where an Egyptian trade fair opened -- a signal of Iraq's hopes. Iraq, which when not promising compliance is denying that it has any disarming left to do, is pressing hard for some lifting of sanctions -- at least the bar on oil sales -- in October. Hamdoon confirmed Tuesday that his government decided last week not to accept any more relief aid from U.S. or other foreign groups that have been willing to defy sanctions if necessary to import medicines and other commodities for Iraqis suffering from sanctions. Iraq asked its friends abroad to lobby against sanctions instead. Russia, Iraq's strongest supporter on the Security Council, seemed to take a less optimistic view of the Baghdad talks. In Moscow on Tuesday, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vladimir Rakhmanin, told reporters that the meetings between Butler and Aziz had been "tense." A special Russian presidential envoy for the Middle East was sent to Baghdad this week to hold his own meetings with Iraqi leaders. The envoy, Victor Posuvalyuk, played an important role earlier this year in defusing a crisis that led to a U.S. war buildup in the Persian Gulf and ultimately to the visit by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Baghdad. Some Security Council members are questioning whether the United States, with a range of international crises to confront, will be able to give much attention to Iraq if Butler runs into trouble again with Baghdad. On May 26 the Pentagon announced that half its forces in the gulf area would be withdrawn. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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