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* Oil-for-food increases would help sanctions remain (Arabic News) * UN approves $174M compensation claim against Iraq (Associated Press) * Iraq 'on brink of producing nuclear arms' (The Times): [Media 'on brink of producing nuclear propaganda' ?] Thomas Pickering, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, promotes increasing sales under oil-for-food as a means to "counter growing calls from Arab states and Security Council members to lift sanctions outright." Pickering's assertion that "allowing increased Iraqi oil exports would address concerns regarding the shortfall in revenues needed for humanitarian purchases" had already been undermined by US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, who acknowledged that increasing oil-for-food would not pose a threat to international oil prices because Iraq can't meet the current ceiling due to the state of its production capacity. The Times says that "after the withdrawal of UN inspectors last December, there are increasing fears that Saddam is in a position to resume a fast-track programme to make nuclear weapons" and that "information about [two] secret [nuclear] weapons programmes was passed to American officials more than four years ago, but never made available to the UN Special Commission for the Disarmament of Iraq". It attributes this claim to a new report citing prevously unpublished evidence from a Iraqi nuclear scientist. ******************** US: Oil-for-food increases would help sanctions remain Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 3/18/99 US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, former US representative to the United Nations, said before a joint hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the Iraqi oil-for-food program could be increased without posing a threat to international oil prices in part because Iraq cannot meet the current dollar levels of the program due to its production capacity. "Right now, Iraq is producing around 2.5 million barrels per day. That allows it to export approximately $3 billion dollars worth of oil every six months, well below the current $5.2 billion dollar ceiling that has been set by the UN Security Council. Iraq's ability to increase its production is limited and is not expected to go up measurably this year. As a result, EIA [Energy Information Administration] believes that whatever effect Iraqi production has had on prices has already occurred, because Iraq cannot increase oil production much more over the next year or two," Richardson said. He also said that three factors in addition to Iraq's production had influenced international oil prices since 1996: the Asian economic crisis, warmer-than-normal winters, and increased production by some OPEC member states. He said, "The oil-for-food program is a key component of the Administration's Iraq policy, and is, therefore, key to our national security." Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, who also addressed the committee, said that increasing sales allowed under the oil-for-food program would "serve to counter growing calls from Arab states and Security Council members to lift sanctions outright." He also said that after Iraq had repaired its oil infrastructure, "Allowing increased Iraqi oil exports would address concerns regarding the shortfall in revenues needed for humanitarian purchases." ******************** U.N. OKs $174M Claim Against Iraq Friday, March 19, 1999; 5:29 a.m. EST GENEVA (AP) -- A key U.N. panel has ruled that Iraq will have to pay an additional $174 million to companies that suffered losses resulting from Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The total approved by the U.N. Compensation Commission Thursday includes $128 million to 45 Kuwaiti firms. The remaining amount goes to corporations based in other countries, said U.N. spokeswoman Therese Gastaut. The latest amounts come on top of $2.73 billion already approved by the panel for payment to individuals, companies and governments. Compensation awards approved by the 15-nation commission are paid from Iraqi oil sales approved by the U.N. Security Council. The commission has received a total of $240 billion in compensation demands from individuals, governments and corporations seeking compensation for deaths, loss and damage caused by the invasion of Kuwait, which led to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Processing the claims is expected to take several more years. ******************** The Times, March 19 1999, MIDDLE EAST Iraq 'on brink of producing nuclear arms' FROM BEN MACINTYRE IN WASHINGTON PRESIDENT Saddam Hussein of Iraq may be on the verge of producing a work-able nuclear weapon, according to a report citing hitherto unpublished evidence from an Iraqi nuclear scientist, who worked for a decade on the secret nuclear weapons programme before defecting. United Nations weapons inspectors believe that a plant west of Baghdad, which the Iraqis say is a tractor factory, is designed to manufacture enriched uranium for nuclear bombs, and "there is mounting evidence that Iraq might be assembling a secret nuclear reactor to generate plutonium", according to yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Airstrikes by American and British warplanes are continuing in Iraq almost daily. But after the withdrawal of UN inspectors last December, there are increasing fears that Saddam is in a position to resume a fast-track programme to make nuclear weapons. Information about both secret weapons programmes was passed to American officials more than four years ago, but never made available to the UN Special Commission for the Disarmament of Iraq, the report claimed. "If Iraq had access to nuclear material, it could produce a workable nuclear weapon within one year," a senior official at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna was quoted as saying. UN weapons inspectors are particularly concerned by the "tractor factory" at al-Ubur. The plant contains a high-voltage power source and a plant for water purification, two of the facilities necessary for operating the particle accelerators used by Iraq to enrich uranium before the Gulf War. ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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