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Re : responding to events at the SC

The following article appeared in yesterdays Financial Times (6th December
1999). It looks as though things are going to come to a head in the
Security Council this week.

At the National Co-ordinating meeting on Saturday we discussed ideas as to
how to respond if/when the resolution gets passed (or doesn't get passed).

Both contingencies are ominous - US officials have stated that the US is
prepared to walk away from the negotiations if they don't get there way
(Washington Post, 20th November 1999) - and clearly leaving things in
their current state is totally unacceptable.

On the other hand we felt that there was a real
danger that, is passed, the resolution (and the spin it
will doubtless receive in the media) could deflect the growing pressure
for lifting the economic sanctions *without addressing the humanitarian
crisis*. This, in many ways, is what happened with the earlier
oil-for-food resolutions.   

Here (very briefly) are some of our thoughts :

We agreed that, if the resolution is passed, the focus of our response [to
the media etc...] should be the continuing linkage between weapons
inspections and the humanitarian crisis, which we want to see broken.

It appears that measures such as removing of the cap on oil
sales under "oil-for-food" are conditional upon the setting up of the new
arms commission (UNCIM). This, presumably, would require the Iraqi
Government to agree to the resolution - which it has said it will reject -  
and to letting UNCIM into the country. 

Similarly the "suspension" of sanctions and the [crucial] authorisation of
foreign investment for Iraq's oil industry could not happen until after a
prolonged period of co-operation with the new inspectorate (perhaps as
long as 10 months).

We should stress that addressing the humanitarian crisis in Iraq is a
matter of *great urgency* and that it is deeply immoral to make
measures that could make a positive difference conditional upon the
Iraqi Government agreeing to - and then co-operating with - a new set of
weapons inspectors.

We also agreed that we should try to nail the British Government
down as to what, exactly, it thinks the impact of the measures contained
in the resolution would be on the humanitarian crisis. 

In particular, to what extent could these measures lead to the
"sustained revival of the Iraqi economy" without which, the UN 
Humanitarian Panel noted earlier this year, the humanitarian situation in
Iraq would continue to be "dire" and which, it also noted, "cannot be
achieved solely through remedial humanitarian efforts" ?

It was felt that it would be a good idea to try and flood the FCO with
letters, postcards, phone-calls etc... as soon as the outcome of the
negotiations becomes clear (and we have the necessary information upon
which to base our response !). Similarly we should try to respond, as best
we can, to the media coverage.
Hope these thought are of some use to people. I'll post something more
detailed later in the week.



Iraq sanctions deal moves closer 
By Carola Hoyos at the UN, and Stephen Fidler in Washington

A year of bitter wrangling over United Nations sanctions towards Iraq is
expected to come to a head this week.

The dispute centres on a resolution, supported by most of the council,
that gradually eases UN sanctions on Iraq if it allows the return of arms
inspectors and takes steps to abandon its weapons programmes. The
prospects for adoption of the resolution improved in recent weeks with
indications that Russia, Iraq's strongest supporter among the five
permanent members of the council, would be willing to at least abstain
instead of using its veto.

If Russia does abstain, France and China would probably follow.

Without Russian and French support for the resolution it is unlikely that
these two countries would be willing to try to persuade the Iraqis to go
along with the resolution.

Last week Moscow added uncertainty to its position by proposing amendments
to the resolution, some unacceptable to the US and Britain. But diplomats
say Moscow is looking for a politically graceful way to accept the

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Sergey Lavrov, is due to return to UN
headquarters today after meeting Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister,
in Moscow.

Despite the council's differences, the US and Britain are pushing for a
vote on the resolution by the end of the week, using the expiry of the
UN's oil-for-food programme as a lever to introduce the new sanctions
regime. On Friday the council extended the programme, which allows Iraq to
purchase food and medicine using oil revenues, for one week instead of the
usual six months. The vote drew three abstentions and one no-vote in

Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state, last week discussed Iraq with
her counterparts in Moscow, London and Paris. "We would expect those
consultations to intensify in the coming week," said James Rubin, US state
department spokesman. "We certainly believe that the time has come to move
quickly to a vote," he said.

The US is especially keen to push the resolution to a vote before the end
of the year when five new members join the council, four of which are
expected to be less sympathetic to the US agenda in Iraq. Additionally,
the Clinton administration does not want the issue of sanctions against
Iraq to arise during the US presidential election campaign.




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