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"sanctions are going to stay on forever"

August 21, 1998

U.N. Renews Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

NITED NATIONS -- After a defiant outburst from Baghdad on Thursday, the
Security Council voted unanimously to renew economic sanctions against
Iraq, and the U.S. representative to the United Nations warned that the
sanctions might never be lifted. 

In an attempt to mend his fences with Iraq, Richard Butler, the chief U.N.
arms inspector, wrote to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on
Wednesday saying the Security Council had ordered him to continue his work
and inviting Baghdad to resume cooperation with his inspectors. 

But Aziz rejected that suggestion in a strongly worded statement in
Baghdad Thursday, saying Iraq does not trust Butler and will not cooperate
with U.N. inspectors seeking to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction
until the Security Council starts lifting the trade embargo. 

He said Iraq would not change its position "until the council seriously
and sincerely considers, away from American pressure and blackmail, Iraq's
legitimate demands," starting with lifting the embargo, according to a
Reuters report from Baghdad. 

With Iraq clearly in violation of its orders, the Security Council had no
alternative in its regular review but to maintain the trade embargo it
imposed after Baghdad's invasion of Kuwait. 

After reporting that the council had found Iraq's behavior "totally
unacceptable," Danilo Turk, Slovenia's representative and this month's
council president, announced that Iraq had not met conditions for altering
the sanctions. 

America's representative, Bill Richardson, went further. 

"Sanctions may stay on in perpetuity" he said Thursday, echoing the
warning he made after a council meeting on Monday that "sanctions are
going to stay on for ever." 

Such remarks are fueling speculation among diplomats here that with many
of Iraq's most dangerous weapons eliminated and the administration clearly
reluctant to seek a new military confrontation, the focus of U.S. policy
might be shifting. 

Instead of concentrating on further disarming President Saddam Hussein,
the United States may now be more interested in insuring that he remains a
powerless pariah in Middle East affairs by maintaining sanctions and
denying him the ability to rearm. 

If that is the strategy, then Iraq's regular confrontations with the
United Nations and its arms inspectors are only reinforcing the
continuation of sanctions. 

On Monday the council told the arms inspectors to continue their regular
work, but Butler says that is impossible without Iraq's assistance. 

On Thursday China suggested that the Security Council talk directly to the
Iraqi leadership, perhaps inviting Aziz to meet members in New York as it
has during previous disputes. 

But the United States wants Secretary General Kofi Annan to get more
involved because Iraq's decision to cease cooperation with the arms
inspectors breaches the agreement he negotiated personally with Aziz in
Baghdad in February that averted new military strikes. 

Richardson said Thursday: "The next step is up to the secretary general.
We want to see his active diplomacy and skills." 

But aides say Annan is reluctant to get more involved, fearing that this
would compromise his independence by making him seem an instrument of
American foreign policy. 

Instead he has suggested that the council hold a "comprehensive review" of
the sanctions it has imposed on Iraq. But that has little appeal to
Baghdad since Annan cannot guarantee that such a review would lead to any

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