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News: Ritter and Oil

Two articles:

Former UN Inspector :Iraq 's Been Disarmed
"What's left in Iraq? Nothing but seeds which can be planted and
cultivated." said Ritter, a former US Marine.

DUBAI (AFP) -- Iraq has already been disarmed and no longer poses a threat
to its neighbors, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said in an

"Today, Iraq no long possesses arms of mass destruction," Ritter told the
London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat.

"What's left in Iraq? Nothing but seeds which can be planted and
cultivated. They have scientists and the know-how which they could decide
to reactivate if they are given the freedom," said Ritter, a former US

His latest comments, after a series of press interviews since resigning in
August from UN arms inspection teams, contrasted with the reasons which
Ritter gave for his resignation.

At the time, he accused Washington of blocking intrusive inspections of
Iraqi sites.

Ritter went on to warn in September that Baghdad still possessed most of
the elements needed to build three nuclear bombs, although it lacked the
enriched uranium.

But in Al-Hayat, he said the nuclear program had been "destroyed and
dismantled," the same as Iraq's long-range missiles.

UN panel calls for new monitoring system

A UN panel, in a new report to the Security Council, has called for a
revamped and "more intrusive" system of long-term monitoring that would
include inspections.

Outstanding issues remain, notably concerning Iraq's biological and
chemical programs, according to the panel.

Iraq vowed after US and British air strikes in December -- launched to
punish Baghdad for its reported failure to cooperate fully with UN
inspectors -- that the inspectors would never be allowed to return.

Humanitarian panel proposes easing sanctions

A UN panel that studied the humanitarian situation in Iraq recommended
Tuesday a loosening of economic sanctions to ease the desperate plight of
the Iraqi people.

In a report handed to the UN Security Council by panel chairman Cellos
Amorim of Brazil, the four-member team stressed, however, that "a strict
arms embargo and control over dual use items would remain in place."

Dual use items are civilian items that can also be used for military

The panel notably recommended that the Security Council authorize
bilateral production-sharing agreements between the Iraqi government and
foreign oil companies to provide oil spare parts and equipment to Baghdad.

The council could also authorize private investment flows into the Iraqi
oil industry "and other secondary export industries unrelated to the
military complex," such as fertilizer, sulfur, urea, dates and nuts, the
report said.

The panel's suggestions aim to provide more funds for an oil-for-food
humanitarian program under which Iraq is allowed to export limited
quantities of oil in return for badly-needed humanitarian supplies.

However, the scheme is severely underfunded because of depressed oil


Iraq Needs Oil Investments
Iraq slips from "affluence to massive poverty," says a UN report.

Iraq Needs Oil Investments 

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Iraq, since the 1991 Gulf War, has slipped
from "relative affluence to massive poverty" and should be allowed to
receive foreign oil investments, a report released on Tuesday said. 
The report to the Security Council from a four-member panel of senior U.N.
officials, says that even if stringent U.N. sanctions were lifted "it will
take a long time before the infrastructure is repaired and the economy

The panel said Iraq should be allowed to export as much oil as it can to
finance needed goods under the U.N. "oil-for-food" program but it did not
directly call for lifting stringent U.N. sanctions, imposed on Baghdad
since 1990. 

Nevertheless, its proposals included an easing of some sanctions, such as
allowing foreign oil companies and others to invest in such Iraqi exports
as fertilizer, sulfur, urea, dates, nuts and agriculture in general. 

The report also said the oil firms could share with Iraq spare parts it
needs to upgrade its dilapidated oil equipment. 

The United States and others have proposed lifting the ceiling on oil
sales, now at $5.2526 billion every six months to finance humanitarian
supplies under the oil-for-food program. But low oil prices have prevented
Iraq from even reaching the current ceiling. 

Diplomats said the United States and Britain would probably object to
investments from oil companies and other industries into Iraq's domestic
economy, even if such ventures were supervised by the United Nations. 

While the panel said Iraq was responsible for some of the problems in
distributing supplies, particularly medicine, it made clear that the U.N.
oil-for-food program was inadequate, particularly during periods of
falling oil prices. 

"The humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the
absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot
be achieved through remedial humanitarian efforts," the report said. 

The humanitarian panel concluded that Iraq since 1990 has "experienced a
shift from relative affluence to massive poverty." Infant mortality is the
highest in the world, and chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child
under 5. 

Only 41 percent of the population has regular access to clean water and 83
percent of all schools need substantial repairs. The U.N. Development
Program calculates it would take $7 billion to rehabilitate the power
sector to its 1990 capacity, the report said. 

Other recommendations included: 

-- Temporarily reducing the 30 percent Iraq has to pay from its oil
revenues into a fund for Kuwaiti Gulf War victims, by asking governments
and institutions to delay their claims. 

-- A release of some of Iraq's frozen assets into a U.N. escrow account
for the purchase of urgently needed goods. 

-- The Security Council's sanctions committee should allow food and
medical supplies, agricultural equipment and basic educational items to be
imported by Iraq without notification. Other items should be approved
within two business days

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