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Financial Times. 18th July 1998. Saddam sees break-up of UN sanctions By Roula Khalaf in London President Saddam Hussein of Iraq on Friday vowed that United Nations sanctions would disintegrate this year and warned of serious consequences if the UN persisted in maintaining the embargo. In a defiant speech marking the 30th anniversary of the coup which brought the ruling Baath party to power, Mr Saddam said he did not expect sanctions to be formally lifted by the Security Council. But he assured Iraqis that sanctions had started crumbling and would continue to do so, as more countries showed a willingness to trade with Baghdad. "This year, and the time that follows, will be the year and time of the virtual disintegration of the blockade on Iraq," he said. This week's agreement between Iraq and Syria to reopen an old pipeline and build a new one is part of Iraqi attempts to render the sanctions regime irrelevant. But implementation of these projects requires UN approval and the US State Department said this week it had received assurances Syria would not violate the sanctions. According to UN officials, Iraqi co-operation with UN weapons inspections may end in the autumn if the six-month sanctions review at the Security Council in October fails to produce an easing of curbs, or, at least, a closing of some disarmament files. In spite of rising international outcry against the effects of sanctions on the Iraqi population, the Security Council can consider lifting the embargo only after Iraq is declared free of weapons of mass destruction. While France, Russia and China are eager to see an end to the sanctions, the US and UK maintain a hard line. Last June Unscom, the commission charged with finding and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, expressed its readiness to issue a final report on deadly weapons for the Council's October review and agreed a two-month intensive work schedule with the Iraqis to settle outstanding issues. Baghdad has long maintained that it has already complied with disarmament requirements. But the prospect of a final and positive report by October is unlikely, raising concern that Iraq might provoke a new crisis before the end of the year. In February a US and UK-led military strike on Baghdad was averted after Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, struck a deal with the Iraqi leadership, which led to the opening up of presidential sites to UN weapons inspectors. Unscom says it still lacks an understanding of Iraq's biological weapons programme and has some unanswered questions about chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Even as the work schedule progresses, the commission is embroiled in a dispute with the Iraqis over their alleged production of the deadly VX nerve gas. Iraqi missile warheads recently excavated and tested in a US laboratory were found to contain traces of VX, when the Iraqis claim they never loaded missiles with the gas. Accusing the US laboratory of conspiracy, Baghdad has asked that new tests be conducted in France and Switzerland. The results of these tests are expected next month. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html