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August 21, 1998 U.N. Renews Economic Sanctions Against Iraq By PAUL LEWIS 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 easing. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html