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Two similar articles from today's papers... from The Independent, 6th Nov 1998 Cook's tour will pressure Saddam By Rupert Cornwell The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, and other Foreign Office ministers will be fanning out across key Middle East and Gulf countries over the next fortnight to persuade them to intensify pressure on Saddam Hussein by clamping down on Iraq's large-scale smuggling in defiance of international sanctions. The move seems to confirm that for all the belligerent talk against Baghdad following the Iraqi President's latest decision to end all co-operation with United Nations arms inspectors, the West does not contemplate using military force - at this stage of the crisis at least. Explaining the thinking behind the diplomatic offensive yesterday, Mr Cook argued that Iraq was making no effort to use the full oil export quota of $10bn (£6.1bn) allowed it by the UN for the purchase of food and medicine. He said President Saddam "prefers to smuggle oil out to get illegal receipts of currency" to boost pay for the Republican Guard, provide a lavish lifestyle for his entourage, and pursue the development of chemical and biological weapons. Denying that Western sanctions were simply producing hardship and deprivation for ordinary Iraqis, Mr Cook claimed that President Saddam's regime had been exporting maize and wheat even as it claimed children were malnourished. On the medical side, "Iraq had been importing liposuction equipment and silicone breast implants, all the while claiming it can't afford to buy medicines". The new gambit comes amid a flurry of activity by top United States officials to drum up support for Washington's policies. A lightning tour by the Defense Secretary, William Cohen, of nine Middle Eastern countries culminating in a meeting with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, yesterday, is to be followed by a mission to Europe this weekend by President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger. But there are clear indications that key US allies in the Gulf have no more stomach for military action than last February, when an 11th-hour agreement between Saddam and the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, averted American and British air strikes. The Pentagon last night declared that Mr Cohen had held "successful consultations" in the region. But Mr Clinton himself could only trot forth the hope that "we'll have the support we need for whatever decisions we ultimately make". As in February, moreover, Russia yesterday signalled its opposition to the use of force. Thus the repeat in New York of familiar diplomatic manoeuvring at the UN. Last night, the Security Council was considering a British-US draft resolution, condemning Iraq's latest behaviour as a "flagrant violation", and demanding immediate and unconditional compliance with agreements it had signed. In fact, however, the resolution contains no threat of force, and does not go as far as last February's which spoke of "the severest consequences" if Baghdad did not allow UN inspectors unimpeded access to the sites where President Saddam is suspected of building his weapons of mass destruction. Iraq, however, still insists on a clear-cut timetable for the lifting of sanctions before it renews co-operation with the inspectors. Mr Cook could not specify the extent of the smuggling by Iraq, which he said was being conducted by sea and across land borders, especially via Jordan. But he said "substantial sums" were involved. The burden of his argument in Middle Eastern capitals this month will be that Western actions are not aimed at Arab countries. Strenuously though Mr Cook denied it yesterday, a whiff of double standards is in the air - with Iraq being held to strict UN resolutions while Israel blithely ignores them. But it was "grotesque" to compare "democratic debate" in Israel to the situation in Iraq, he said. President Saddam retained the capacity to build chemical and biological weapons, and had managed to load a nerve gas weapon into a missile warhead. "The evidence is there before us, and we cannot walk away. Given his past record, he'll use these weapons," Mr Cook said. *** from The Guardian (http://reports.guardian.co.uk/articles/1998/11/6/31657.html) Cook urges action to halt Saddam's sanctions-busting By Ian Black, Diplomatic Editor Friday November 6, 1998 Britain is urging an international crackdown on Iraqi sanctions-busting to prevent any leakage in the United Nations oil embargo and deny Saddam Hussein the resources to maintain his brutal regime. As the United States continued to rally support in the latest confrontation over weapons inspections, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said he would be working with Iraq's neighbours and the UN to "cut the money that keeps this appalling regime in office". President Bill Clinton said he had the support of European allies and sent his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, to consult them, while the US defence secretary, William Cohen, left Oman and flew to the United Arab Emirates. Signalling a British attempt to seize the initiative, Mr Cook is talking to all European Union foreign ministers today and planning to visit the Gulf, as is his junior minister, Derek Fatchett, and George Robertson, the defence secretary. "We don't want to take military action," Mr Cook said. "What we have said is that all options are open." He insisted that the UN Security Council was more united than it had been earlier this year, when France, Russia and China expressed alarm over possible air strikes. But he indicated that making the seven-year oil embargo more effective might be the right approach in the face of likely reluctance to use military action. "That seems a very logical way if people are unhappy about the use of force," Mr Cook said. He attacked the "warped priorities of a brutal regime" which imported liposuction surgery equipment and silicon breast implants but then claimed that sanctions meant it could not afford antibiotics. "There is quite significant smuggling round the region," he said. "If we can get a handle on that it will make it more difficult for Saddam Hussein to maintain his payments to the Republican Guard, who have not gone short in a period when he has been parading the bodies of dead children." Iran, Turkey and the Gulf states would all need to co-operate if the embargo, linked to the destruction of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, is to have a greater impact on the regime. Oil is Bahgdad's best foreign currency earner, with smuggling valued at $500 million ( £300 million) this year. Sanctions-busting is conducted via Turkey and Iran, under an agreement whereby Iraqi oil is transported through Iranian waters and sold on the international market in Dubai. This means the Iraqis can avoid the British and United States naval patrols in the Gulf. The UN allows Iraq to export $5.2 billion of oil every six months, but legal exports fall far short of this. Baghdad prefers unregistered receipts, so proceeds do not have to be used to buy medicine and humanitarian supplies. Both the US and Britain stress that Iraq is breaching an agreement not just with the Security Council, but with the entire UN, following a memorandum of understanding signed with the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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