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* Iraq ordered to pay war damages to Israel (Associated Press) * Iraq proposals divided into three camps (Associated Press) * Iraqi-Iranian talks marred by issue of missing prisoners (Arabic News) * Iraq economists back privatization as means to resuscitate the economy (Associated Press) * Martin Indyk: Saddam could be toppled soon (Associated Press) * Iraq Preparing New Sanctions Policy (Associated Press) * U.S. Rejects Iraq Investment Plan (Associated Press) * UN approves vaccine to save Iraqi livestock (Reuters) ******************** Israelis Awarded Iraq Compensation Thursday, April 15, 1999; 11:17 a.m. EDT JERUSALEM (AP) -- Some 68 Israeli companies will share over $31 million in compensation for damage they sustained during the 1991 Gulf War, Israel's Justice Ministry said Thursday. The money comes from a U.N. committee established in 1991 to compensate individuals and businesses harmed by Iraq during the war. The committee draws its funds from Iraqi oil revenues. The decision by the Geneva-based committee, announced Tuesday, represents the first time the fund has compensated Israeli companies. Previous awards have been made to individual Israelis. Nearly $31.5 million will go to 68 Israeli companies that sustained damage when Iraq unleashed 40 Scud missiles on the Jewish state. The largest award among those going to companies is nearly $5.7 million; the smallest, nearly $2,000. Requests from another 17 companies were rejected; another 39 are awaiting a decision. The committee also granted 13 individuals a total of about $231,000. Nearly $900,000 has already been awarded to Israelis. ******************** Three Camps Discuss Iraq Proposals By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, April 15, 1999; 5:19 a.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Three main camps have emerged within the U.N. Security Council as it struggles to develop a new relationship with Iraq, an indication that no consensus is near, diplomats said. Few people had expected negotiations on resuming U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq to proceed smoothly or quickly in the wake of the U.S. and British airstrikes in December and Iraq's demand that sanctions be lifted immediately. But the varying approaches under discussion indicate how big the disputes are, and how little the 15 members have come together in the past four months. U.N. weapons inspectors pulled out of Iraq on Dec. 15, a day before the United States and Britain started a four-day bombing blitz blamed on Iraq's failure to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. Since the strikes ended, the council has been mulling ways to return inspectors to Iraq while improving life for Iraqis who have been living under sanctions since Baghdad invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Gulf War. Some council members appear to be standing by elements of their original positions on a new Iraq policy, despite the joint recommendations reached by technical panels created in February to chart a unified path forward, the diplomats said Wednesday. Under U.N. resolutions sanctions cannot be lifted until inspectors report Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. The humanitarian panel suggested, among other things, that the council consider allowing foreign investment in Iraq's oil sector to allow it to export more oil under the U.N. oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil for that limited purpose. It did not call for a lifting of the oil embargo, which Slovenia suggests should be suspended. The United States has said it would be flexible in discussing improvements to the humanitarian program, but this week the deputy U.S. ambassador, Peter Burleigh, ruled out foreign investment. Washington also has said it wants to see the U.N. Special Commission resume inspections in Iraq. But Iraq rejected the panels' recommendations and has banned the commission from returning, indicating further problems even if the council finds a united way forward. ******************** Iraqi-Iranian talks for exchanging remains of war victims Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 4/15/99 A source at the Iranian embassy in Baghdad said on Wednesday that Iraqi and Iranian officials discussed on Wednesday in Baghdad the latest measures before exchanging remains of victims of their war (1980 - 1988). An Iranian diplomat said that an Iranian delegation led by Maj. Gen. Meir Faisal Baqer Zada has been in Iraq since last Saturday for this purpose. The Iraqi weekly al-Alaam quoted coordinator of the committee in charge of Iraqi war victims, Fahmi al-Qeisi, as saying that the Iranian delegation will spend four days in Baghdad and then head for al-Shalameja district (near Basra city) where the operation of delivering and receiving the remains of war victims will be carried out. Baghdad also intends to ask for the release of Iraqi prisoners of war still held in Iran. In 1998, both Iraq and Iran started to normalize bilateral relations through exchanging visits of political and economic delegations. However, the normalization process between the two countries is stuck by the problem of war missing and prisoners. Baghdad stresses that it had freed all Iranian prisoners of war and that it only keeps some 64 Iranians who took part in acts of violence that took place in southern Iraq in March 1991 following the Gulf War. On the other part of the story, Tehran stressed that some 51,000 Iranian soldiers are still detained in Iraq, whereas Baghdad stresses that there are still 20,000 Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad in Iran. ******************** Iraq Economists Back Privatization APRIL 14, 14:10 EDT, By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraqi economists urged the government Wednesday to privatize some state industries as a way to jump-start the economy, which has been devastated by U.N. sanctions. The economists, mainly university professors, were nearly unanimous in arguing that Iraq's bloated socialist sector had to be drastically trimmed and passed over to private entrepreneurs. Their studies showed that while most government-owned industries have come to a grinding halt, private firms and utilities were still prospering, despite the sanctions. To achieve economic prosperity, ``the government has to reduce its role as a direct producer of non-strategic industries in favor of the private sector,'' economist Abdelghafur al-Attraqchi told a conference Wednesday. The meeting was attended by several government ministers, and shadowed by yet another slump in the value of the dinar, which fell to a record low of 2,005 to the dollar, down from 1,995 last week. Before sanctions were slapped on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990, one dinar was officially worth more than $3. Such criticism in the presence of senior government officials was daring, given the restrictions on expression of opinion in Iraq. Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh assured the economists that the government was discussing the possibility of selling some state enterprises to the private sector. He did not elaborate, and joined the ministers of finance and planning in blaming U.N. sanctions for Iraq's economic woes. The sanctions severely limit Iraq's oil sales. They are to remain in place until Baghdad rids itself of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's 1980-1988 war with Iran, the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait and the continuing U.N. trade sanctions have depleted state coffers of foreign cash, the experts said. The researchers had few figures and indicators on which to base their observations. Iraq has long stopped issuing economic data. ******************** US Envoy: Saddam Could Be Toppled Wednesday, April 14, 1999; 5:17 p.m. EDT MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could be toppled soon, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. Martin Indyk, assistant secretary of state for Near East and Asian affairs, reiterated that the United States sought the overthrow of the Iraqi government. ``Our view is that sooner or later, Saddam Hussein should go, and we believe it should be sooner, and we believe it may be sooner than you and I think,'' he said. Indyk declined to offer a more specific assessment for such an action, although he said the United States would ``do what we can to ensure that once Saddam goes, there will be a stable future for Iraq.'' President Clinton has declared that Saddam's ouster is a major U.S. goal. Congress has allocated $97 million in aid for Iraqi dissidents. A two-day meeting of Iraqi dissidents in London last week was an ``important development,'' he said. ``Groups came together to elect a new leadership and plan their steps for a renewed effort to illegitimize Saddam Hussein,'' Indyk said of the meeting that appointed a new executive to the Iraqi National Congress. Indyk spoke to reporters after meeting Bahrain's new ruler, Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Indyk said his talks with the new emir covered the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which the United States plans to try to push forward after Israel's May 17 elections. Arab states have accused Israel of failing to honor its commitments under the Wye River accord and an earlier pledge to negotiate the final status of the Palestinian territories. ******************** Iraq Preparing New Sanctions Policy By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, April 13, 1999; 5:10 p.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq is working with diplomats from France, Russia and China to shape a new U.N. sanctions policy, despite a public rejection of the proposals currently being considered. The government is working quietly with senior diplomats accredited to Baghdad to make any new policy affecting Iraq as palatable as possible, diplomats in the Iraqi capital said this week. It's a sign that Baghdad's insistence on accepting nothing less than a total removal of the U.N. trade curbs is mostly rhetoric. The U.N. Security Council is trying to break a deadlock created in the aftermath of U.S.-British airstrikes on Iraq in mid-December. After the attacks, which the West said were in response to Iraqi provocation, Baghdad banned U.N. disarmament activities in Iraq and demanded a total lifting of sanctions imposed to punish it for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Since then, several council members presented suggestions on how to formulate a new Iraq policy. Russia and France called for an end to the oil embargo in return for Iraq's accepting U.N. disarmament rules; the United States and Britain want the blockade in place until Baghdad rids itself of weapons of mass destruction. To bridge the gap, the council established three panels which made recommendations early this month on how to continue Iraq's disarmament, improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq, and deal with missing Kuwaitis and looted Kuwaiti property. Although Iraq publicly turned down the panels' findings, a European diplomat with good contacts in the Iraqi government said Baghdad desperately wants some of the suggested changes. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity. The Security Council this week is discussing the three panels' recommendations in preparation for issuing a final blueprint. France and Russia are being lobbied assiduously by Iraq to preserve what Iraq sees as the positive elements in the proposals, and water down the others. The proposals believed to please Iraq include allowing foreign investment in the oil sector and permitting the government to buy local instead of foreign produce with oil money. Iraq opposes allowing U.N. arms inspectors unfettered access and the right to investigate Iraq's past weapons programs and requiring Iraq to help account for missing Kuwaitis and looted property. The United States has already rejected a proposal by the panels to allow foreign investment in Iraq's oil sector, saying increasing oil prices mean Baghdad may not need outside help. Meanwhile, the Security Council's sanctions committee late Monday approved the purchase of 1 million doses of foot-and-mouth vaccine from an Indian company. A U.N. statement did not say how much the vaccines would cost. The disease, which hits cows, sheep and pigs, has killed tens of thousands of sheep and cows in Iraq in recent months. ******************** U.S. Rejects Iraq Investment Plan Tuesday, April 13, 1999; 3:09 a.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States rejected a proposal to allow foreign investment in Iraq's struggling oil sector, saying increasing oil prices mean Baghdad may not need outside help. Iraq has been exporting less oil than the full amount allowed under the U.N. oil-for-food program recently, in part because its industry is dilapidated. A U.N. panel had recommended investment as a way to bring more money into the program, which allows Iraq to sell oil to buy humanitarian aid for its people. But deputy U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh noted Monday that prices for Iraqi crude are up and oil industry experts are projecting a further increase, which by the end of the year could be high enough to fill the sales quota. The program allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion in oil over six months for humanitarian aid for its 22 million people suffering the effects of U.N. sanctions. In the last six-month period Iraq only exported about $3 billion. On Monday, the oil-for-food program reported that Iraq exported $211 million of oil in the week ending April 9, the highest amount in months. The United States also opposes foreign investment in Iraq because it would have the unintended effect of lifting some sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Burleigh said. Burleigh spoke after the council met to consider the humanitarian panel's recommendations, which also included a proposal that Iraq be allowed unlimited oil exports -- provided the revenues continue to be funneled through the United Nations. The panel said Iraq should be allowed to purchase food and medicine already exempt from sanctions, without getting approval from the U.N. sanctions committee. It also recommended ways to improve distribution and support local farmers. ``We're prepared to agree to some changes now,'' Burleigh said, ``but not these deep structural ones like the foreign investment.'' While France, Russia and China are calling for the lifting of sanctions to entice Iraq to allow arms inspections to continue, the United States and Britain are wary of any proposal that could be seen as weakening the sanctions regime. ******************** UN approves vaccine to save Iraqi livestock Reuters, April 13, 1999 BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- The U.N. Security Council's sanctions committee, after numerous pleas from Iraq, has allowed Baghdad to buy vaccines to combat the spread to foot-and-mouth disease among its livestock, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The contract is for one million doses of vaccine, ordered from an Indian company, according to a U.N. office coordinating Iraq's humanitarian programme. Diplomats in New York said the United States had delayed until Monday Iraq's purchase of the vaccine in the council's sanctions committee, which examines many items Iraq wants to import to see if they can be used for military purposes, such as biological warfare agents. In February, the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) expressed alarm about the epidemic, saying "the multitude of diseases afflicting livestock in Iraq threatens the health of people living in infested areas." Iraq last week demanded that the United Nations compensate it for a shortage of cattle and dairy products which it said had been caused by foot-and-mouth disease, which killed thousands of sheep and cows in recent months. Iraq has been under stringent trade sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The sanctions remain in place until the Security Council agrees it has no more weapons of mass destruction. Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Hameed Mahmoud Saleh said Iraq had been prevented from producing vaccines by the destruction of sections of a vaccine plant by the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) hunting for Iraqi weapons programmes. Saleh said Iraq had set up the project during the 1970s to produce 12 million vaccines a year against the three types of foot-and-mouth disease, and that it had stopped as a result of the 1991 Gulf War. UNSCOM, which has not been in Iraq since the mid-December U.S.-British bombing raids, countered Baghdad's charges in March saying that Iraq had admitted in 1995 that the plant at Daura had been used to produce germ warfare agents since 1990. Although production of foot-and-mouth disease vaccine was briefly resumed in 1992 "as part of Iraq's attempt to conceal its biological warfare programme," it discontinued all production of the vaccine after September 1992, though staff and equipment remained at the site, UNSCOM said. After that, Iraq imported foot-and-mouth disease vaccine, as it had done previously, UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler added in a March 18 letter to the Security Council. ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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