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Iraq news: US support for new draft proposal

  • US Supports Iraq Sanction Proposal (Associated Press)
  • US favours sanctions suspension on Iraq exports (Reuters)
  • British proposal to suspend sanctions on Iraq (Arabic News)
  • UN official to meet with Iraqi officials (Arabic News)
  • Iraq balks at UN arms experts going to Baghdad (Reuters)

[Harriet’s note: I included a number of articles on the same subject because it may be useful to see a number of accounts. Note that British officials have now clarified that the new draft resolution refers only to a suspension of sanctions on EXPORTS (i.e. oil) and NOT IMPORTS. Also crucial is the draft resolution’s insistence on "serious financial controls on the Iraqi economy so that we can be assured of what they are importing" (Deputy U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh). The sticking point in all this will probably be the absolute link between lifting sanctions on exports and the Iraqi regime’s "cooperation" with UN weapons inspectors.]


US Supports Iraq Sanction Proposal

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, June 16, 1999; 11:37 p.m. EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States gave qualified support Wednesday to a British-Dutch proposal that could lead to suspension of the oil embargo against Iraq. The new proposal, circulated Tuesday, represents a significant breakthrough because Britain and the United States have never before agreed to even consider suspending the embargo. Russia, however, said the proposal was unrealistic and would lead to a deterioration of relations with Baghdad.

The proposal sets tough conditions before the embargo, imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, can be lifted: Iraq must answer the remaining questions about its banned weapons programs and adhere to strict financial controls to ensure that revenues from oil sales aren't spent on new weapons. Deputy U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh said the proposal meets key conditions set down by the United States: it requires real disarmament, links suspension of the oil embargo to disarmament, and imposes serious financial controls. ``We have some problems with small parts of it, but by and large it's something the U.S. can support,'' Burleigh said, adding that the new proposal is ``as far as we're prepared to go.''

Russia continues to promote the Iraq resolution it cosponsored with China and France, calling for the suspension of all economic sanctions once a system to monitor Iraq's weapons programs is in place. Burleigh said the Russian draft requires only Baghdad's cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors, not compliance, a condition that could be met by ``simply allowing an office to open.''

The Security Council has been deadlocked on Iraq since the United States and Britain launched airstrikes in mid-December over Baghdad's refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. The inspectors pulled out just before the bombing. Council members have been trying to devise a way to get the inspectors back while improving life for Iraqis suffering under sanctions for nearly nine years. The sanctions bar Iraq from freely selling its oil on the open market, depriving it of its most valuable commodity. Iraq has demanded that sanctions be lifted entirely, arguing that it is already completely disarmed. But under the 1990 resolution, the oil embargo cannot be lifted until the council is satisfied that Iraq has scrapped efforts to build chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and long-range missiles.


WIRE:June 16, 11:35 a.m. ET
U.S. favors sanctions suspension on Iraq exports

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it would support suspension of sanctions on Iraqi exports, such as oil, if Baghdad met disarmament and other requirements made in a British draft resolution. ``We're pleased with that,'' U.S. ambassador Peter Burleigh said, referring to the British draft. ``We have some problems with small parts of it but but and large it is something the U.S. can support.''

Meanwhile, British officials clarified that their new draft resolution, circulated Tuesday, referred only to a suspension of sanctions on Iraqi exports, such as oil, and not imports of goods to Baghdad as France, Russia and China want. But diplomats said it was significant in that Britain as well as the United States had for the first time mentioned a partial suspension of sanctions at a time Iraqi relations with the council were at an all-time low. Russia, however, indicated immediately that the British proposals were not satisfactory.

The British resolution would require cooperation and compliance on disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before any lifting of the arms embargo. It would also maintain ''effective financial controls'' to make sure Iraq did not reacquire dangerous weapons. Burleigh said the United States was pleased that the British draft ``links the suspension proposal with actual (arms) compliance.'' He said, ``We insist on serious financial controls on the Iraqi economy so that we can be assured of what they are importing and this also is assured in this resolution.''


British proposal to suspend sanctions on Iraq

Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 6/16/99

The ambassadors of the five permanent states at the United Nations Security Council meet today in New York to discuss three draft proposals concerning Iraq. The three draft proposals include a British - Dutch project which for the first time uses the language of "suspending" the UN sanctions. The British proposal for the first time uses the word "suspension" and links it to a tough mechanism similar to that set as a precondition to lifting the sanctions. The British proposal calls for suspending sanctions imposed on Iraqi civil exports, namely oil.


UN official to meet with Iraqi officials
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 6/16/99

The executive director of the UN Office for the Iraq Program (OIP), Benan Sevan, left yesterday for Iraq, where he is to meet with senior Iraqi official on the possibility of increasing Iraq's ability to export oil, as well as with a group of UN oil experts charged with preparing a report for the UN Security Council on the requirements for increasing Iraq's oil production capacity.

Meanwhile, OIP announced that US Secretary General Kofi Annan has approved the Iraqi government's latest plan to distribute revenues generated under the current phase of the oil-for-food program. The plan proposes $3 billion in expenditures on humanitarian supplies, including $300 million in spare parts and equipment for the oil industry.

This comes as in the past week 38,000 tonnes of wheat, 51,000 tonnes of rice and 3,700 tonnes of soap and detergents along with other supplies arrived in Iraq.


Iraq Balks At U.N. Arms Experts Going To Baghdad

1.42 a.m. ET (542 GMT) June 16, 1999 

UNITED NATIONS — Iraq, insisting U.N. arms inspectors left explosives behind in Baghdad, has refused to allow arms experts from the U.N. Special Commission to clear out a U.N. laboratory in the Iraqi capital, diplomats said.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office was considering a team that could include UNSCOM chemical arms experts and chemists from a Swiss government laboratory, who have done some work for the commission in the past, the diplomats said. But they reported Tuesday that Iraq wanted to exclude all experts from UNSCOM on any visit to Baghdad. Annan will now have to decide on what sort of a team he would send.

At issue are proposals by UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler to send weapons experts to Iraq for the first time in six months to dispose of chemical and biological samples left behind when inspectors left Baghdad last December.

The request escalated into a political controversy when, a few days after Butler spoke to Annan's office about the team, Russia called the Security Council into a June 1 emergency session to discuss alleged dangerous chemical substances left in Iraq by UNSCOM. Last week, Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov, sympathetic to Iraq, told the council that UNSCOM had also retained explosives on its premises, which Butler has strongly denied. Iraq made similar charges to Annan's office, the envoys said.

UNSCOM has not been allowed into Baghdad since U.S.-British bombing raids in December to punish Iraq for allegedly not cooperating with the arms inspectors attempting to account for its long-range missiles and biological and chemical weapons.

Butler, in response to the first Russian complaint, said the laboratory contained tiny quantities of chemical agents used to calibrate equipment, which he said "do not represent a threat, even in case of an accident,'' as well as some 2.2 pounds of mustard gas recovered from Iraqi shells. But he feared the summer heat would damage equipment and said the laboratory in Baghdad's Canal Hotel compound had been left sealed longer than anticipated by UNSCOM, in charge of dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

In a new letter to the council late last week, Butler disputed the charge about explosives. "I have reviewed the work and activities of the commission in all areas, and can confirm that, at the moment of the commission's departure from Iraq on December 1998, no explosives were left by UNSCOM's personnel.'' He said the only time UNSCOM used explosives was in July 1998 to dispose of Iraqi missile turbo-pumps. "Neither during the operation, nor since, have Iraqi authorities expressed any concerns to the commission on the origin or use of the explosives,'' Butler said.

"All explosives obtained by the commission for this task were consumed. None remained,'' he added.


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