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News for the period 18 to 29 November, 1999

News for November 18 to November 29, 1999

Thank you to Drew Hamre and Ian Geldard for their

Sources: Reuters, AFP, AP, Washington Post and The

*       Iraq has said it will begin exporting oil again if
oil-for-food is extended to 6 months instead of 2
weeks. This resulted in the oil price dropping again
after reaching a 9 year high. There are quite a few
articles below regarding the Security Council
negotiations on policy towards Iraq and the seesaw
status of Iraq's oil exports. 
Note that it is not clear that Iraq will begin
exporting oil again. As far as I am aware this is
dependant on the Security Council extending OFF for 6
months, which, in turn, seems to be dependant on the
Security Council reaching consensus over a number of
disagreements between the US, UK and Russia.

*       US/UK forces might have bombed an Iraqi school on

*       Iraqi government has imposed strict penalties for
citizens who leave the country illegally. 

*       Turkish forces kill Kurds in Northern Iraq.

*       Amnesty International report on Iraqi government

*       Canada sends delegation to Iraq to discuss
sanctions, arms inspectors and oil-for-food.

I've been following wire coverage of Iraq for a while
and I must say that Hassan Hafidh (who seems to write
mainly for Reuters) consistently reports important
sanction related news that most of the mainstream
media seems to ignore. He seems to be an excellent

Also, my apologies for not posting the news last week.
I was out of town.


Monday November 29, 10:49 am Eastern Time 
Russians in Talks on Iraq Oil Deal
Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD Iraq (AP) -- Russia's Machinoimport, a power
and fuel construction company, is negotiating a $1
billion deal with Iraq's Oil Ministry to upgrade the
giant southern oil field of North Rumeila, a company
executive said Monday. 
Alexander Alexeev said the Iraqis are eager to sign
the contract, but want the company to start work right
away -- an action that would violate U.N. trade
sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990.

``They want us to start immediately, but in this
situation it is impossible,'' Alexeev, head of
Machinoimport's Iraq branch, told The Associated
Full-fledged implementation, will have to wait until
the company obtains U.N. permission, Alexeev said. 
Alexeev said the contract, to be implemented in four
phases, is expected to add 160,000 barrels per day to
North Rumeila in two years. The field is Iraq's most
prolific, churning out nearly 1 million barrels per
Machinoimport is one of a half-dozen Russian companies
working with the oil industry in Iraq. 
Alexeev said Machinoimport is careful to limit its
activities to the framework of U.N. trade sanctions,
which ban direct foreign investment but allow
equipment shipments to rehabilitate the oil industry
under a U.N.-approved oil-for-food deal. 
Russian companies control the bulk of Iraq's external
trade under the oil program. They also purchase more
than 40 percent of the country's oil exports under the
Machinoimport was the largest foreign construction
company in Iraq before the sanctions, with more than
5,000 Russian engineers overseeing scores of projects
across the country. 


Monday November 29, 3:40 am Eastern Time 
FOCUS-Oil down as Iraq lifts supply worries
SINGAPORE, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell in Asia
on Monday, after Iraq eased worries of a supply
shortage by saying it would accept a six-month
extension of its U.N. ``oil-for-food'' deal. 
January New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) crude
prices were last traded at $26.43 per barrel at 0825
GMT, down 44 cents from New York's close last
U.S. crude futures markets were closed on Thursday and
Friday to mark the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the
United States. 
Iraq confirmed on Saturday it would accept a six-month
extension of its ``oil-for-food'' deal with the United
``We confirm we will deal with a resolution of an
extension of six months, when it comes,'' Oil Minister
Amir Muhammad Rasheed told reporters. 
But there were no details on when exports might
Iraq suspended exports early last week, after it
rejected plans to extend the latest round of sales by
two weeks. 
Iraq said the two-week extension was impractical and
represented a U.S. move to pressure other Security
Council members into accepting a draft resolution on
weapons inspections. 
The suspension drove NYMEX oil prices to near
nine-year highs of $27.15 per barrel as the market
fretted the halt in Iraq exports would exacerbate
OPEC's production cuts. 
The oil-for-food deal permits Iraq to sell $5.26
million worth of oil every six months so that it can
buy food and medicine. 
But Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter,
reassured the market late last week that it was
committed to maintaining stability in the market and
would not allow prices to overheat. 
Saudi Arabia was ``required to strive to ensure the
stability of the world market in a way that protects
interests of all consumers and guarantees at the same
time the interests of the producers,'' Crown Price
Abdullah said on Thursday. 


Sunday November 28 8:48 AM ET 
Iraq Law Places Travel Restrictions
By LEON BARKHO Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqis risk prison time and loss
of property if they try to leave the country
illegally, according to a new travel law that went
into effect early this month. 
The law, excerpts of which were obtained by The
Associated Press on Sunday, places additional travel
restrictions on Iraqis in a bid to stem the exodus of
experts and professionals who have been leaving in
droves since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. 
Under the law, a prison term of up to 10 years and
``the confiscation of movable and immovable property''
will be imposed on anyone trying to leave the country
illegally. Similar penalties face anyone found
encouraging or helping those banned from travel -
including doctors, engineers and university
The new rules come three months after President Saddam
Hussein granted amnesty to all Iraqis who had left the
country illegally. 
Iraqi lawyers and judges, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the new penalties do not apply to
those who left the country before the law was issued. 
It is not clear how many Iraqis have taken advantage
of the pardon. According to official statistics, at
least 3,000 university professors have left Iraq since
the war, and sources at Iraqi universities, speaking
on condition of anonymity, said they were not aware of
any who have returned. 
The Iraqi economy is suffering hyper-inflation due to
U.N. trade sanctions imposed for Baghdad's 1990
invasion of Kuwait. Government employees have watched
the purchasing power of their monthly salaries shrink
from the equivalent of $1,000 before 1990 to an
average of $5. 
The Iraqi opposition says more than 2 million Iraqi
citizens are living abroad, a figure disputed by the
government. Iraq's population is 22 million. 
Some say the tough new regulations will have no
effect. Travel agents in Baghdad say they have even
noticed a surge in the number of Iraqis leaving the
Leaving the country legally requires an exit visa fee
of $210, and some citizens must also provide
collateral in the form of homes, land, jewelry or bank


Sunday November 28 9:22 PM ET  
Report: Turkish Army Kills 70 Kurds 
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Turkish troops killed 70
Kurdish rebels over the past five days in northern
Iraq, the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported Sunday. 
Kurdistan Workers Party officials in Europe confirmed
that Turkish soldiers had crossed into Iraq a week
ago, and were carrying out 15 operations. There were
no reports of casualties, a Kurdish official said. 
Turkey's military would not comment on the report. 
Some 20,000 Turkish troops, backed by helicopters,
were pursuing rebels fleeing Turkey and were trying to
destroy the group's winter hideouts in northern Iraq,
Cumhuriyet said. Some 2,000 Iraqi Kurdish fighters
allied to the Turkish government were taking part in
the operation, it said.  Turkish troops frequently
cross into northern Iraq to pursue guerrillas in the
region, which has been out of Baghdad's control since
the end of the Gulf War in 1991.  In September, Turkey
sent 5,000 troops to attack rebel bases there.  The
rebels, heeding a call by their imprisoned leader,
Abdullah Ocalan, announced a cease-fire and withdrawal
from Turkey in August. They accuse Turkey of attacking
them during their retreat.  Ocalan's death sentence
for treason and separatism was upheld by Turkey's
national appeals court Thursday. After the verdict,
the rebels warned that their patience was running out.
 Ocalan's sentence must be approved by parliament and
President Suleyman Demirel before it can be carried
out. Ocalan's lawyers said they would appeal to the
European Court of Human Rights.  Turkish troops also
killed a rebel commander who broke away from the
Kurdistan Workers Party because of Ocalan's
concessions to Turkey, Cumhuriyet said.  Haydar
Alparslan, who left the group with 22 members after
recruiting youths for the rebels for 10 years, was
killed in a clash in the southeastern Turkish province
of Tunceli, the report said.  Some 37,000 people have
been killed in fighting in southeastern Turkey since


Sunday November 28 1:07 PM ET 
Iraq: Allied Warplanes Bomb School
By WAIEL FALEH Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi media accused allied
warplanes of bombing a school Sunday in northern Iraq,
injuring eight people and damaging the building,
surrounding homes and nearby cars. 
The official Iraqi-News Agency said the Al-Zanaziq
elementary school in Mosul, 250 miles north of
Baghdad, was hit at 11:05 a.m., when U.S. and British
warplanes carried out 18 sorties over three northern
Three children - identified as Heba Khalid Mahmoud, 3,
Mena Omar Zuhair, 4, and Ahmed Mahmoud Jameel, 4 -
were among the eight wounded, INA reported. Two cars
belonging to civilians and some homes also were
damaged, the spokesman was quoted as saying. 
The U.S. European Command, based in Germany, said in a
statement Sunday evening that U.S. warplanes responded
to Iraqi antiaircraft artillery fire by bombing air
defense targets in northern Iraq. A U.S. military
spokesman at Incirlik base in southern Turkey, from
where U.S. planes head out to patrol northern Iraq,
refused to discuss what was hit or where. 
Allied warplanes have been patrolling the skies over
northern Iraq since after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
So-called ``no-fly'' zones were set up to protect
Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south from the
Iraqi military. 


Saturday November 27, 7:59 am Eastern Time 
FOCUS-Iraq accepts six-month extension of oil deal
(Writes through with more details, quotes) 
By Hassan Hafidh 
BAGHDAD, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Iraq, which has suspended
oil exports, confirmed on Saturday that it would
accept a six-month extension of its oil-for-food deal
with the United Nations. 
``We confirm that we will deal with a resolution of an
extension of six months, when it comes,'' Oil Minister
Amir Muhammad Rasheed told reporters. 
The U.N. Security Council on November 19 voted to
extend phase six of the oil-for-food programme for
just two weeks because of differences between the
United States and Russia over terms for a full,
six-month renewal. 
Iraq rejected the two-week extension and halted oil
exports on November 22, calling the 14-day term
impractical as well as a U.S. manoeuvre to prolong
U.N. sanctions against Baghdad. 
Rasheed reinforced Baghdad's opposition to such a
short programme renewal on Saturday, while making
clear a six- month extension was acceptable. 
``Our not to deal with a meaningless,
sinister United Nations resolution which is the
extension of two weeks.'' 
Iraq's rejection of the two-week extension helped lift
world oil prices to fresh nine-year highs. But Saudi
Arabia, the world's largest producer and exporter,
says it will not let markets spin out of control. 
Rasheed, asked whether the Saudis might pump more oil
to compensate for Iraqi exports, said: ``It would be
irresponsible of any country to make such a statement
if it did.'' 
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah was quoted as saying his
country was ``required to strive to ensure the
stability of the world oil market in a way that
protects interests of all consumers and guarantees at
the same time the interests of producers.'' 
Under the oil-for-food programme, Iraq is permitted to
sell $5.26 billion worth of oil every six months to
enable it to buy food and medicine to help offset the
effects on ordinary Iraqis of the sanctions imposed
for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 
Western diplomats in Baghdad said on Thursday that
Iraq was likely to accept a straightforward
six-monthly rollover of the oil-for-food deal. 
The United States said on Wednesday it would re-submit
next week its resolution on renewing the Iraqi
oil-for-food deal for six months. 
Rasheed also made a prediction of Iraqi oil output
next month in his remarks to reporters while opening a
Baghdad exhibition of oil equipment produced by
foreign companies. 
``During November, we achieved 2.95 million barrels
per day...but possibly in December, we will just
exceed the three million bpd,'' he said. 
Asked if the Y2K computer problem would cause any
disruption in Iraqi oil production, Rasheed said:
``Not in the least.'' 
Before it suspended its oil exports last Monday, Iraq
exported an average of 2.4 million barrels per day. 
Baghdad said it would also reject an overall
resolution on Iraq which is being discussed by the
Security Council because it would not result in a
complete lifting of sanctions. 


Friday November 26 3:54 AM ET 
Iraq Prefers Sanctions to Inspectors' Return
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An influential Iraqi newspaper
said on Friday Baghdad would tolerate crippling
sanctions rather than accept the return of U.N. weapon
``We prefer sanctions to continue with all their the return of spies to our country,''
Al-Thawra, mouthpiece of the ruling Baath party, said.

``We say we cannot tolerate the impact of the
sanctions and spies at the same time, but the unjust
sanctions...are much easier to accept than the
presence of spies and their recurrent and concocted
crises aiming to prolong sanctions,'' Thawra added. 
A resolution under discussion at the United Nations
Security Council to suspend sanctions was abhorrent
since it proposed to combine lifting sanctions with
the return of the inspectors. 
``This combination between the sanctions and spies is
what the malicious British draft resolution aims at
achieving,'' Thawra said. 
It defended Iraq's decision to reject the draft
resolution as natural and legal and called on
``friendly states'' at the Security Council to reject
and resist it. 
Iraq halted oil exports on Monday in protest at what
it sees as a U.S. attempt to prolong crippling U.N.
sanctions. Washington called Baghdad's action a
cynical bid to avoid disarming. 
The U.N. Security Council approved a 14-day extension
to give the United States and Russia time to settle
differences on the program that allows Iraq to sell
$5.26 billion worth of oil every six months to buy
food, medicine and other goods. 
The U.N. oil-for-food program was established three
years ago to help ease the impact on Iraqi civilians
of the stringent sanctions imposed for Baghdad's 1990
invasion of Kuwait. 
The U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), in charge of
Iraq's disarmament under the terms of the 1991 Gulf
War cease-fire, has not been allowed into Iraq since
December 1998 when the United States and Britain
launched extensive air and missile raids against Iraq.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on
Wednesday the United States could keep Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein in check with air force patrols even if
attempts to get arms inspectors back into Iraq fail. 


Friday November 26 12:53 AM ET  
Albright Says Inspectors Not Needed to Control Iraq 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright said on Wednesday the United States could
keep Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in check with
military air patrols even if an attempt fails to get
arms inspectors back into Iraq.  ``It would obviously
be better to have monitors on the ground, but I
believe that through our ... continued patrolling of
the northern and southern no-fly zones, we are able to
keep Saddam Hussein in his box,'' Albright said when
asked how crucial it was for the U.N. Security Council
to approve a comprehensive resolution on Iraq that,
among other things, would condition any suspension of
sanctions on the return of weapons inspectors.  The
United States and Britain have tried to persuade
Russia and China -- both with veto power on the
council -- to force Iraq to answer key questions on
disarmament before sanctions are lifted. Moscow and
Beijing have said the United Nations should ease
sanctions once Baghdad cooperates with a new U.N.
weapons commission.  The United States is due to
resubmit another closely related resolution on Iraq
next week -- a six-month extension of the $5.2 billion
oil-for-food program meant to allow Baghdad to feed
its people but not to spend money on arms.  Iraq
suspended its oil exports on Monday to protest a
two-week extension of the humanitarian export program
approved by the Security Council as a temporary
measure because Russia and the United States could not
agree on terms for the six-month deal.  Moscow wants
to lift the cap on how much oil Iraq can sell and it
wants to let Baghdad buy $600 million in spare parts
for its oil industry.  Albright made it clear she saw
passage of the comprehensive resolution as very
important but not essential. ``We have believed in the
importance of an omnibus resolution as a way of
specifically dealing with the issues that are of
concern to us on Iraq,'' she said.  That resolution,
which is still being negotiated by council powers,
would reflect overall U.N. policy toward Iraq,
including arms inspectors -- kicked out of Baghdad in
1998 -- and standards for any suspension of sanctions.
 ``These are all things that would be desirable to get
as a way of stating where the majority of the council
is on the issue and I believe that there is increasing
support for such a resolution,'' Albright said.  ``But
I think it is also important to understand that even
without it, we are still able to tell what Saddam
Hussein is up to through our national technical
means,'' she added. 


Thursday November 25, 5:31 pm Eastern Time 
Canada team in Iraq for talks on U.N. resolution
By David Ljunggren 
OTTAWA, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Canadian officials held
talks in Baghdad this week to urge Iraq to accept a
proposed United Nations Security Council resolution to
end a stand-off over arms inspections, Foreign
Minister Lloyd Axworthy said on Thursday. 
Axworthy was confident Security Council members would
soon set aside their differences and agree on a draft
text for a resolution suspending sanctions in exchange
for arms inspectors returning to Iraq after nearly a
year's gap. 
``The important thing in this to have the
Iraqi regime accept it. There's no point having a
Security Council resolution that is then rejected or
not complied with,'' he told reporters. 
Axworthy said he sent the five-person team to Baghdad
earlier this week with two goals. 
``(One was) to meet with senior Iraqi members of the
regime to say, 'Go along, don't reject this, it is an
important step','' he said. 
``They (the officials) have had those meetings and
hope they (the Iraqis) will comply.'' 
The team's second goal was to assess the humanitarian
needs of Iraq, where the ordinary population has been
hit hard since trade sanctions were imposed in August
1990 following the invasion of Kuwait. 
``We had received lots of indications that such a
visit would be welcome and there was an interest in
having Canada come to Iraq and make this kind of
influence felt,'' Axworthy said. 
Baghdad insists it will reject any resolution which
does not lift all the sanctions but the Security
Council has yet to agree whether or how many
disarmament tasks Iraq must fulfill before it can
qualify for a suspension. 
Axworthy said he hoped the five permanent members of
the Security Council -- Britain, France, China, the
United States and Russia -- could produce the draft of
a compromise resolution by the start of next week. 
The United States and Britain say key questions on
Iraqi arms of mass destruction must be answered while
Russia and China say establishment of a new commission
on the weapons is sufficient for the easing of the
Iraq on Saturday rejected a temporary extension of the
U.N. oil-for-food program to give council members time
to thrash out their differences over enhancing the
terms of the deal, which is rolled over every six
Under the terms of the deal Iraq can sell oil to feed
its people but not to buy or produce weapons.


Thursday November 25 4:29 PM ET 
Explosion Near Iraq Opposition Camp
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A stationary truck loaded with
four rockets exploded near an Iranian dissident
group's camp outside Baghdad, but caused no damage or
casualties, the group claimed Thursday. 
The Mujahedeen Khalq, Iran's main opposition group,
based in Iraq, accused agents of Iran's clerical
government of intending to attack their camp with the
It said the agents had infiltrated Iraqi territory
with the truck laden with four missiles. The truck was
driven up to the camp and abandoned by its occupants,
who had apparently intended to launch the rockets by
remote control to hit the camp, a Mujahedeen Khalq
statement said. One of the missiles exploded
prematurely Wednesday, tearing the truck in half, it
The missiles were aimed at Ashraf camp, Mujahedeen
Khalq's largest camp in Iraq, the statement said. 
An Iraqi government spokesman confirmed the incident
and said it was an attempt ``to harm our country and
undermine its domestic security.'' 
In a statement carried by the official Iraqi News
Agency, the unidentified spokesman said Iraqi experts
defused the remaining three missiles, which had not
exploded. The spokesman promised that Iraq planned
``suitable retaliation for (such) vicious aggressions
taking place inside its territory no matter their
The Mujahedeen Khalq has nearly 20 camps in Iraq
equipped with tanks, artillery and helicopters to
launch attacks on Iran. Iran also hosts Iraqi
dissident groups, including the biggest, the Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite
Wednesday's incident was the third attack that the
Mujahedeen Khalq has claimed this month. Iran has
denied involvement in any of these alleged attacks. 
Iran and Iraq fought a war from 1980 to 1988, and
relations remain hostile. 


Thursday November 25 3:29 PM ET  
U.S. Fighter Planes Bomb Iraq 
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi
air defense system Thursday after coming under missile
and artillery fire during patrols of the no-fly zone
over northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.  The U.S.
planes attacked an Iraqi integrated air defense system
after the Iraqi forces fired multiple surface-to-air
missiles and anti-aircraft artillery from sites near
Mosul, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said in
a statement.  The Iraqi forces also targeted the
planes with tracking radar, the statement said. Mosul
is some 250 miles north of Baghdad.  The planes, based
in Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, all left the
area safely, the statement said.  U.S. and British
planes have been patrolling no-fly zones over northern
and southern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Persian
Gulf War to protect Kurds and Shiites from the forces
of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.  Iraq says the
zones are a violation of international law and has
frequently challenged the allied planes there since


Thursday November 25 9:44 AM ET  
No Date for Pope Visit to Iraq 
By LEON BARKHO Associated Press Writer  BAGHDAD, Iraq
(AP) - 
Iraqi and Vatican officials have completed preliminary
talks on a proposed papal visit, but it's still too
early to say when the pope might come, a senior Iraqi
church official said Thursday.  The Rev. Joseph Habbi
said the talks that ended Wednesday in Baghdad focused
on the duration of Pope John Paul II's visit,
scheduling and other details.  ``At this stage we can
say nothing more because we have nothing concrete
yet,'' he said, adding a joint statement from Iraq and
the Vatican may be released in the next few days. 
John Paul has expressed a desire to visit the ancient
Sumerian city of Ur in Iraq, where the faithful
believe biblical patriarch Abraham was born, as part
of a proposed tour of pilgrimage sites in the Middle
East.  A delegation led by Archbishop Carlo Maria
Vigano, a top aide to the Vatican's secretary of
state, met with Iraqi Foreign Ministry officials to
discuss the proposed trip. Vigano arrived in Baghdad
on Saturday.  Early this month, Iraq's most senior
Christian clergyman, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch
Rafael Bedaweed, said he expected the pope to make his
Iraq trip around Jan. 20.  But Habbi, who is
Bedaweed's assistant, said Thursday it is still ``too
early to set dates for the papal trip.''  Though
preparations are underway, the Iraqi government has so
far declined to issue a formal invitation. Iraqi
Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Wednesday the
visit was still under discussion.  The fate of the
visit has been uncertain since the Iraqi state media
published a scathing attack on the pope by several
Iraqi scholars who said the pontiff should not expect
Muslims to cheer him.  The United States, Britain and
Iraqi opposition figures have expressed fears
President Saddam Hussein's government would use a
visit to boost its international standing after years
of isolation. 


Wednesday November 24 12:02 AM ET 
Report: Iraq Tortures Opposition
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Iraq's government continues to
arrest political opponents without warrants and
executing some after unfair trials, Amnesty
International charged Wednesday. 
``Those suspected of any involvement in opposition
activities can expect to be arrested without a
warrant, held in secret detention, be brutally
tortured ... and finally could face execution,'' the
human rights group said. 
The report, released to the media in Cairo, cited one
case where a detained suspect had his eyes gouged out
during torture. 
``This is the length the Iraqi security forces are
prepared to go to identify any opposition views and
silence them,'' Amnesty International said. 
Shortly before resigning early this month, Max van der
Stoel, the special investigator on Iraq for the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights, said the human rights
situation in Iraq is worsening and the repression of
civil and political rights continues unabated. 
Van der Stoel, a former Dutch foreign minister,
expressed regret that the Iraqi government had not
replied to any of his communications and had refused
to accept the stationing of U.N. human rights monitors
in the country. 
In the past, Iraq has accused van der Stoel of being a
``dishonest observer'' who obtained his information
from U.S., British and Israeli sources in addition to
``traitors and agents,'' a reference to Iraqi
opposition groups in exile. 
Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Saeed Hasan, rejected the
report as baseless U.S. propaganda. ``The real
violation of human rights in Iraq is the sanctions,''
he said. 
He summed up the true scenario as ``the United States
perpetrating genocide agianst the Iraqi people and
alleging that some Iraqis were arrested.'' 
Amnesty International's report said grave human rights
violations in Iraq ``range from arbitrary arrest and
detention, to torture, extrajudicial and judicial
executions after unfair trials.'' 
The report said the majority of the victims are Shiite
Muslims in southern Iraq and in some districts of
Baghdad, as well as Kurds in the north. 
U.N. Security Council resolutions require Iraq to
improve its human rights record as one of several
conditions to lift economic sanctions imposed in 1990
after Iraq invaded Kuwait. 


Oil Prices Spike on Iraq Move
Export Halt Raises Inflation Worries 
By Martha M. Hamilton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 1999; Page A01 
Oil prices surged to their highest level since the end
of the Persian Gulf War yesterday after Iraq suspended
oil exports, throwing already nervous oil markets into
a turmoil that analysts said may send prices higher
than $30 a barrel. 
Stable oil prices have been the norm for much of this
decade and have been one of the fundamental factors
underlying the United States' longest-ever economic
expansion. But oil prices have swung sharply in the
past year and closed yesterday above $27 a barrel in
trading on financial markets, compared with a 12-year
low of just under $11 last December. 
"The best inflation news is behind us," said Cynthia
M. Latta, DRI-McGraw Hill's principal U.S. economist.
She noted that low energy prices have insulated the
U.S. economy from other price pressures during the
long economic boom, helping to dampen overall
Oil industry analysts said the cancellation of Iraqi
sales could push prices higher in the coming weeks.
Latta said those higher energy costs could slow the
U.S. economy and add to inflation pressures, though
how much depends on how long the price spike lasts.
Transportation fuel costs already have increased
substantially, she said, although not all of the
increase has been passed on yet in the prices of goods
and services. 
The Labor Department reported last week that so far
this year, prices of gasoline and home heating oil
have increased at a 30.9 percent annual pace. Gerald
D. Cohen, an economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., noted
that airline fares jumped by 5.3 percent last month,
but he added that fare prices are volatile and had
fallen sharply in the previous two months. 
Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey of
gasoline costs, said gasoline prices increased 2.5
cents over the past two weeks to reach a nationwide
average price of $1.2774 for self-serve regular. If
oil prices were to climb to $30 a barrel, the price
could increase by an additional 8 cents per gallon,
she said. 
Rising oil prices hit more broadly than just at the
pump. Petroleum makes up a quarter of the cost of many
plastic bags, half the cost of certain fertilizers and
5 percent of the cost of nylon. Manufacturers consume
oil in big gulps to produce an array of products. 
Oil experts said yesterday that Iraq's decision to cut
off supply comes at a time when oil-producing
countries are enjoying increased leverage. Global
demand for oil is increasing now that several Asian
economies are rebounding from last year's crisis and
production cutbacks orchestrated by the Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries are sticking.
Yesterday the January-delivery contract for light,
sweet crude climbed as high as $27.20 before closing
at $27.07. 
"If you basically have no Iraqi oil for two to three
weeks, you have a major problem in the oil markets,"
said Roger Diwan, managing director for markets and
countries for the Petroleum Finance Corp., an industry
consulting and research firm. 
Iraq has been exporting 2.2 million barrels of crude
oil per day, or about 3 percent of total global
OPEC members had been debating whether to extend
production cuts beyond March 30, out of concern that
higher oil prices at some point might diminish demand,
but more recently indicated a willingness to keep the
cutbacks in place until June. 
"What better time to squeeze the market than when
inventories have been drawn down and OPEC is creating
all kinds of uncertainty?" said Philip K. Verleger
Jr., an oil industry consultant. 
Iraq canceled its exports after rejecting a two-week
extension of the United Nations program that allows
Iraq to sell limited quantities of crude oil to buy
food and medicine. The program, which has been
extended six times previously for 180 days at a time,
expired on Sunday. 
Members of the U.N. Security Council had been seeking
a broader agreement with Iraq but weren't able to
reach an agreement by the time the oil export
agreement expired. 
Diplomats said Baghdad appeared to be trying to put
pressure on the Security Council to ease the
sanctions. But they also said they expect Iraq, the
world's second-largest oil exporter, to resume the
sale of more than 2 million barrels of oil a day in
two weeks. 
U.N. officials said the decision will have virtually
no immediate impact on deliveries of humanitarian
assistance to Iraq. More than $2 billion worth of
goods, including spare parts for the oil industry,
have been approved for delivery to Iraq. And there is
$2 billion more in the U.N. account used to buy
humanitarian goods. 
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said
today that Baghdad's action was a "cynical" ploy to
use the people of Iraq to extract political advantages
from the council. 
Ann-Louise Hittle, director of world oil for Cambridge
Energy Research Associates, said the balance between
supply and demand was sufficiently tight that just the
uncertainty over how long Iraq may be out of the
market is enough to raise prices. In the fourth
quarter, supply is expected to be 75.1 million barrels
a day, with demand of 77.4 million barrels a day. 
Where prices end up will depend not just on how long
Iraq stays out of the market and what OPEC decides to
do in response but also on the winter weather and on
whether any supply glitches develop at the end of the
year as a result of year 2000 problems. 
Special correspondent Colum Lynch contributed to this
report from New York. 
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company 


Monday November 22 3:25 PM ET 
Iraq Halting Oil Exports
By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer 
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Iraq has begun wrapping up oil
exports after rejecting the Security Council's
decision to extend the oil-for-food program for two
weeks, U.N. and Iraqi officials said Monday. 
The 3-year-old exemption to crippling economic
sanctions allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion worth of
oil every six months to buy food, medicine and other
humanitarian supplies as well as to pay reparations
stemming from the 1991 Gulf War. 
Iraq's rejection of the extension is not expected to
have a major impact on the humanitarian program
because U.N. officials say supplies are continuing to
arrive normally. 
More than $2 billion worth of humanitarian supplies
and equipment approved under the program has not yet
reached Iraq - and another $2 billion from Iraqi oil
sales is in an escrow account waiting to be spent,
said John Mills, spokesman for the U.N.'s oil-for-food
On a one-day visit to Bratislava on Monday, U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Iraq had
once again ``shown its true colors ... by turning down
the possibility of having food, more food and medicine
for its people by selling more oil.'' 
Iraqi oil reportedly has stopped flowing through a key
pipeline, but Iraq's oil minister refused to say
whether the nation has stopped all pumping in response
to actions taken at the United Nations. 
Amer Mohammed Rashid said Iraq has ``no more contracts
to fulfill during these days,'' suggesting an end to
pumping for the latest phase of the oil-for-food
program. But he would not confirm that all pumping had
``We have completed pumping and loading tankers for
all contracts under the sixth phase on Monday, so we
have done our part of the program,'' he said
repeatedly when asked for clarification. 
Mills said exports scheduled out of Mina al-Bakr,
Iraq's offshore platform in the Persian Gulf, were
expected to be completed by Tuesday afternoon. 
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Saeed Hasan said he didn't sign
the memorandum of understanding required to implement
the two-week extension, and Iraq has yet to submit oil
contracts for the two-week period. 
The Security Council on Friday approved a stop-gap
extension of the oil-for-food program through Dec. 4,
but the Iraqi Cabinet on Sunday formally dismissed it.

The United States and Britain are hoping the two-week
extension will provide time to break months of
deadlock on a comprehensive policy toward Iraq - but
Russia and China stressed that major differences
remain and insist there can be no artificial deadline.

Council members agree on the need to restart U.N.
weapons inspections but remain divided on the
conditions Iraq must fulfill before U.N. sanctions
imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait can be
Iraq views the two-week extension of the oil-for-food
program as a tactic by the United States and Britain
to pressure Russia and China, its closest allies on
the Security Council, to agree to a new Iraq policy
backed by Washington and London, diplomatic sources
Russia and China favor the suspension of sanctions
soon after Iraq allows U.N. inspectors to return while
the United States and Britain are demanding a longer
waiting period and Iraqi answers to outstanding
questions about its disarmament. 
The five permanent council members - the United
States, Britain, France, Russia and China - met again
Monday to discuss the comprehensive resolution. 


Saturday November 20 10:45 AM ET  

Iraq Rejects Extended U.N. Oil-For-Food Deal
By Hassan Hafidh  BAGHDAD (Reuters) - 

Iraq on Saturday rejected the United Nations' two-week
extension of its ``oil-for-food'' deal with Baghdad,
saying the United States ``orchestrated'' the decision
to blackmail other Security Council members.  Foreign
Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said Iraq had
completed oil shipments under the pact's current phase
and accused a U.N. sanctions committee of delaying
approval of contracts to buy food, medicine and other
supplies.  ``The decision taken by the (U.N.) Security
Council is meaningless...therefore, Iraq will not deal
with it,'' Sahaf said in a statement carried by the
official Iraqi News Agency INA.  It was not
immediately clear what, if any, the practical
consequences of Iraq's rebuff would be -- whether it
might halt oil-for-food exchanges or take other
action.  The U.N. Security Council approved on Friday
a two-week extension of the oil-for-food pact after
the United States and Russia were unable to agree on a
longer-term resolution.  The current Phase Six of the
program, which was to expire late on Saturday, allowed
Iraq to sell $8.3 billion worth of oil over six months
to raise money to buy food, medicine and other
humanitarian needs.  ``Iraq has ... exported $7.25
billion worth of crude oil permitted under phase six
of the...program,'' Sahaf said.  
Iraq Accuses U.S. Of Manipulation  
He said under the rules of the oil pact, which went
into effect in December 1996, each extension should be
six months not two weeks.  He said the extension was
``orchestrated'' by the United States to force other
council members to accept a draft resolution which
calls for a suspension of sanctions on Iraq only if
Baghdad agrees to inspections of its weapons
production facilities. Baghdad wants sanctions
unconditionally lifted.  The five permanent members of
the Security Council are divided over how far Iraq
must be required to go in cooperating with weapons
inspections before it can qualify for a suspension of
sanctions in place since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 
While the United States and Britain insist that
sanctions shall not be lifted until Iraq answers key
questions on its armament, Russia want a more flexible
approach, saying Baghdad should make progress in
implementing arms demands but without a requirement to
achieve specific results.  Sahaf also accused the U.S.
and British envoys at the U.N. sanctions committee on
Iraq of withholding approval of contracts signed under
the pact to buy humanitarian goods.  ``As a result of
this foolish policy not a single item bought under
phase six of the agreement has reached Iraq,'' he
said.  The Baghdad press has criticized the
oil-for-food deal, saying it had failed to meet the
humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.  Babel, the
newspaper of President Saddam Hussein's eldest son
Uday, on Saturday accused the United States of
preventing the U.N. Security Council from reaching a
solution to the diplomatic impasse on arms controls
and sanctions. 


U.S. Presses Russia on Iraq Arms Checks 
By Colum Lynch
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, November 20, 1999; Page A24 
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 19—The United States ratcheted up
pressure on Russia today to strike a compromise on a
proposal to send U.N. weapons inspectors back into
Iraq for the first time in a year. 
Unless an agreement on the resumption of inspections
is reached in December, officials said, the United
States is prepared to walk away from months of
negotiations about the lifting of economic sanctions
on Iraq. 
Russian officials, meanwhile, backed away from a
reported offer to support the U.S. position on Iraq if
the United States would refrain from criticizing
Russia's bombardment of Chechnya in the U.N. Security
"There could be no link between Iraq and Chechnya.
Those are absolutely different things," said Russia's
U.N. envoy, Sergei Lavrov. 
Lavrov declined to confirm or deny that the offer was
made this week by Russian Foreign Minister Igor S.
Ivanov to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright at
a summit in Istanbul, as reported in today's New York
Times. But he complained about leaks in Washington.
"It seems that some parts of the administration just
cannot hold anything," Lavrov said. 
Ambassadors from the five permanent members of the
Security Council--the United States, Russia, Britain,
France and China--have engaged in intensive
negotiations this week to try to break the deadlock
over Iraq policy. 
To allow more time for the talks, the Security Council
today approved a two-week extension of the U.N.'s
"food-for-oil" program, which allows Iraq to sell
crude oil and use the proceeds to buy food and
medicine for ordinary Iraqis struggling under the
nine-year-old sanctions. 
But the talks clearly have exhausted the patience of
some of the council's 10 rotating members, who have
not been included. 
The rotating members cannot simply "sit and wait for
the white smoke to emerge" from the gathering of the
permanent members, said Peter Van Walsum, the
Netherlands' ambassador to the United Nations. 
Peter Burleigh, the deputy U.S. representative at the
U.N., said the discussions have achieved progress. But
other diplomats said negotiators remain far apart. 
According to participants, the talks have focused on
three main questions: What should trigger the
suspension of sanctions, how much independence should
a new arms control agency have, and what restrictions
should remain on Iraqi trade if sanctions are lifted? 
Russia, France and China want sanctions to be
suspended quickly if Iraq agrees to cooperate with
U.N. weapons inspectors, whose task is to ensure that
Iraq has eliminated all of its chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons programs. But under a draft
proposal supported by the United States and Britain,
it would take at least 300 days before sanctions could
be eased, diplomats said. 
The United States and Britain also insist that the
director of a new arms inspection team in Iraq have
substantial independence from the U.N. Secretariat and
employ many members of the U.N. Special Commission
(UNSCOM), which withdrew from Iraq last December and
has not been allowed to return. France, China and
Russia say that any new commission must be created
from scratch and remain under the Secretariat's
operational control. 
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


Saturday, November 20 4:34 AM SGT 

Russia comes under pressure in UN Security Council to
finish Iraq talks
In remarks aimed at Russia, non-permanent members of
the UN Security
Council complained Friday about the slowness of talks
between the permanent
five on a new resolution on Iraqi sanctions.

"We are far from happy with the way the Iraq file is
being handled,"
Dutch ambassador Peter van Walsum said.

He was speaking before the 15 Council members voted
unanimously to
extend the humanitarian oil-for-food programme for two
weeks to December 4
instead of the customary six months.

Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov said the extension
must not be seen as
"an artificial timetable" for talks among the five on
a resolution which
would allow UN arms inspectors back into Iraq after a
lapse of almost a year.

The inspectors left in December and talks have been
going on for months
against a background of almost daily bombing of Iraq
by US and British
planes, and of Iraq's demand that the nine-year-old
sanctions be lifted

Van Walsum said "the elected, non-permanent members
have had no more
than one progress report per month, courtesy of the
United Kingdom."

The Council president for November, Danilo Turk,
acknowledged that the
five had a particular responsibility on matters such
as Iraqi sanctions.

But, speaking in his capacity as ambassador of
Slovenia, he said it was
necessary "to bring the process back into the Council,
to finalise it
here and to adopt resolutions that are long overdue."

Clearly elated, a Western diplomat said the remarks
put pressure on
Russia, which in Lavrov's words wants "an end to the
sanctions regime on
humanitarian grounds".

The Council imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq in
August 6, 1990
four days after it invaded Kuwait.

The sanctions can only be lifted completely when Iraq
has satisfied UN
arms inspectors that it has destroyed all its chemical
and biological
weapons and missiles with a range of more than 150
kilometres (90 miles).
But Russia favours suspending the sanctions if Iraq
lets the inspectors

The oil-for-food programme that was put in place in
December 1996 has
failed to soften the impact of sanctions on the Iraqi
people, Lavrov told the
Council on Friday.

"The delivery of basic needs is becoming more
difficult because of the
blocking of contracts by sanctions committee," he

The programme allows Iraq to sell up to 5.256 billion
dollars worth of
oil in an 180-day period and to use about two-thirds
of the revenue to
import food, medicine and other basic necessities with
UN approval.

On October 4, the Council agreed to let Iraq breach
the ceiling and
sell up to 3.04 billion dollars extra oil to make good
shortfalls in revenue in
previous periods.

This week, Russia tried to persuade the Council to
remove "basic
humanitarian items" from the purview of the sanctions

"Unfortunately our arguments were not taken into
account by other
delegations," Lavrov said.

The British representative, Jeremy Greenstock, replied
that "an
enormous programme could be moved forward" if Iraq
cooperated fully with the
United Nations.

Britain, like the United States, says Iraq must comply
with a list of
"key disarmament tasks" before sanctions can be

Greenstock conceded that "real improvements in the
situation will not be possible unless there is a
comprehensive resolution" but
said the problem "is not one of time but of

Calling for the right of reply, Lavrov snapped that
Greenstock had
"made his appraisal on his own behalf and not for the
five permanent members."

The humanitarian situation in Iraq "must not be a
hostage to policy,"
he declared 


UN extends Iraq oil, food program amid sparring  
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 19 - The U.N. Security Council
approved on Friday
a two-week extension of the Iraqi ''oil-for-food''
programme in a debate
overshadowed by an impasse in the council's overall
policy toward
Baghdad Friday's stop-gap resolution, providing an
extension until December 4,
was adopted by a 15-0 vote, a day before the current
six-month phase of the
programme expires. The two-week extension gives the
United States and Russia time
to settle differences on the programme that allows
Iraq to sell $5.26
billion worth of oil every six months to buy food,
medicine and other goods.
The plan is meant to offset the impact of stringent
U.N. sanctions, imposed
in August 1990 when Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. 
But the oil-for-food programme was overshadowed at
council meeting by sparring over a resolution still
under negotiation by the
United States, Russia, Britain, France and China on an
overall policy toward
Baghdad. This would link a suspension of trade
sanctions to the return of
a U.N. disarmament commission in Baghdad, forbidden to
resume work since
U.S.-British bombing raids against Iraq last December.
The five nations are permanent members of the 15-seat
council with veto rights. The other 10 countries on
the council are elected for two-year terms, five of
them each year. Russia said the talks were deadlocked
and warned it would brook no artificial two-week
deadline. The United States and Britain said they
hoped the negotiations would end soon. And the
Netherlands lashed out at the permanent five
negotiators, saying they had dithered for six months
and should finish the talks in two weeks because
members were rapidly losing patience. 
Ambassador Peter van Walsum, calling the permanent
five the
''hereditary five,'' said the rest of the council had
only received one
briefing, from Britain, on the talks to date. ''We the
elected members simply cannot go on telling the other
U.N. members who have elected us that we are content
to sit and wait for
white smoke to emerge from the 'heredity-five' or the
chambers,'' Walsum said. ''Therefore we have been
happy to go along for two weeks, but
for two weeks only because we hope that this will be a
way to keep the pressure
on the permanent five to complete their work on the
omnibus resolution on
Iraq,'' he added. The United States and Britain had
hoped that delaying a dispute
on the oil-for-food programme for two weeks would
allow the permanent five
powers to complete intensive negotiations on the
comprehensive resolution. 
But Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov made clear Moscow
was not
on board yet. He rejected what he called ''an
artificial deadline'' of two
weeks and said the talks were ''deadlocked.'' British
ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said the key question
was one of political will. ''The real question is one
of determination to reach a solution,'' he told the
council.  And U.S. ambassador Peter Burleigh said it
was time for all members ''to take up the Iraqi issue
comprehensively and I would hope that could be done in
a short period of time.'' 

One of the main issues under discussion is how many
tasks Iraq must fulfil before it can qualify for a
suspension of the
sanctions. Russia wants the suspension to follow the
return of a new arms
commission while the United States insists key
disarmament questions have to be
answered. France's ambassador Alain Dejammet made
clear that Paris was not
going to approve any resolution unless all members
did, an apparent
reference to getting Russia's consent. He said that
only a text ''adopted unanimously'' could put an end
to the Iraqi crisis. As the discussions on the
resolution intensified, Iraq has put out statements in
Baghdad daily, rejecting any resolution that would not
lead to a permanent lifting of the sanctions.
Accounting for all of Iraq's nuclear, chemical,
biological and ballistic missile programmes is a key
demand for lifting the sanctions, spelled out in an
April 1991 resolution after the Gulf War, in which
U.S.-led troops drove Iraq out of Kuwait.  
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.  


Thursday, November 18 8:43 AM SGT 

UN worried about unspent Iraqi oil revenues in one
French bank
The United Nations expressed concern on Wednesday that
five billion
dollars in unspent revenue from Iraq's UN-controlled
oil sales had accumulated
in one French bank, BNP-Paribas.

"The over-concentration of funds at BNP-Paribas poses
a serious
investment risk," under secretary general for
management Joseph Connor said in a
letter to the UN Security Council's sanctions
committee on Iraq.

"For operational as well as credit reasons, this is an
exposure," he added.

The letter was addressed to Dutch ambassador Peter van
Walsum, who
heads the sanctions committee.

A member of the Security Council made it available to

The Council imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq on
August 6, 1990,
four days after it invaded Kuwait. 

Since December 1996 it has allowed Iraq to sell
limited amounts of oil
to pay for imports of badly needed food and medicine.

None of the revenue from the oil sales is allowed to
pass through Iraqi
government hands.

Instead, it is paid into an escrow account at
BNP-Paribas, which is
paid a fee for operating the account. 

About two-thirds of the revenue may be spent on
humanitarian imports
approved by the sanctions committee. Thirty percent
goes to a
compensation fund for Kuwaiti victims of the 1990-91
Gulf war and the remainder
covers the cost of administering the oil-for-food
programme and the arms
inspection team (UNSCOM), which left Iraq in December.

In his letter, Connor wrote that "as of November 11,
1999, the balance
in the United Nations Iraq account at BNP-Paribas
passed the five billion
dollar level."

The director of the oil-for-food programme, Benon
Sevan, told the
Security Council on Wednesday that a total 1.042
billion dollars of import
contracts had been placed on hold by the sanctions

Diplomats said part of the other four billion dollars
was money that
had not yet been transferred to the compensation fund
or for imports that had
been approved but not delivered.

The rest, they said, was money that Iraq had not yet
applied to spend.

Diplomats said that the interest would go back into
the escrow account,
not to BNP-Paribas.

So far, 188 million dollars interest has accrued since
the start of the
oil-for-food programme in December 1996, they said.

Connor recalled that the auditors had previously
"diversification of the investment portfolio."

Diplomats said that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
had suggested "at
least twice" to the Iraqi government that some of the
oil revenues might be
channeled through Swedish or Dutch banks, but did not
identify the
The UN secretary general and the Iraqi government
originally agreed to
have BNP-Paribas hold the escrow account.


Allies working on deal that could end Iraq embargo Ian
Black, Diplomatic Editor Wednesday November 17 1999
The Guardian 
>From the Guardian
Allies working on deal that could end Iraq embargo Ian
Black, Diplomatic Editor Wednesday November 17 1999
The Guardian There are signs that the five permanent
members of the UN security council may be nearing
agreement on a new system of weapons inspections for
Iraq - and a way towards lifting the sanctions imposed
on the country almost a decade ago to punish it for
invading Kuwait. With senior officials from the US,
Britain, France, Russia and China meeting for a second
consecutive day in New York yesterday, hopes among US
and British officials were rising that long-standing
differences could be overcome about what the Iraqi
president, Saddam Hussein, has to do to get UN
sanctions suspended - and how they could be reimposed
if he does not comply. President Saddam has repeatedly
vowed not to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq until
the economic embargo on his country is lifted, and
there is no guarantee that he will accept the emerging
deal. Yet, even if he does not comply, agreement in
New York would rob him of his ability to exploit the
differences between the US, French and Russian
positions. Ending the deadlock would come as a relief
to millions of Iraqis who have suffered under the
embargo for nearly nine years - and to the US and
Britain, who have been isolated in their 11-month
undeclared air war with Iraq. Earlier this week the
air operation claimed the lives of two US airman over
the Gulf. Washington said their plane crashed; Iraq
said it had been shot down. American officials have
been strikingly upbeat about the prospects of forging
a new UN resolution, but foreign office sources insist
that much work remains. "We are making progress, but
it's not in the bag," said one. "Nothing is agreed
until everything is agreed." Diplomats say a deal may
be possible now because the gap has closed between
French, British and American positions. But they warn
there can be no automatic assumption that Russia - in
a defiant mood about arms control issues and foreign
criticism of its military offensive against Chechnya -
will change tack. China is expected to side with
Russia. Accounting for Iraq's once formidable nuclear,
chemical, biological and ballistic missile programmes
is a key UN demand for lifting the sanctions imposed
on Baghdad in April 1991 after the Gulf war. Under a
draft resolution submitted by Britain and the
Netherlands last summer, the Iraqis could export
unlimited oil as soon as a new UN arms-monitoring
commission for Iraq is set up. But questions remain
about what powers a new inspection team would have.
Unscom, the body set up in 1991 to monitor Iraqi
disarmament, was discredited by allegations that its
inspectors spied on behalf of Washington and London -
a legacy likely to continue to taint any successor
group. Experts say that the US is desperate to break
the deadlock on Iraq, being aware that its policy of
"containment" is doing little to undermine the Baghdad
regime and that Washington's intensified efforts to
galvanise Iraq's fractured groups of opposition exiles
have largely failed. Diplomats note that the language
of US officials appears to have softened: now they
talk of the need for Iraqi "cooperation" instead of
earlier demands for "compliance". 
Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 

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