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Sharpen your pencils (email@example.com) ! %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% UK tries to end Iraq impasse Bold plan offers Baghdad phased lifting of UN sanctions in return for progress on disarmament Iraq: special report Richard Norton-Taylor Saturday December 11, 1999 The Guardian An ambitious British plan to persuade Iraq to open its doors again to United Nations weapons inspectors in return for a pledge to lift sanctions was at the centre of intense talks in New York last night. British, French, United States and Russian diplomats were engaged in what an official called an "elaborate waltz" to reach a breakthrough, as the security council unanimously approved a six-month extension of the exisiting oil-for-food programme. This limited measure allows Iraq to sell $5.26bn (#3.3bn) worth of oil to buy food and some medicines, as well as spend up to $300m for equipment for its deteriorating oil industry. It is required to place 30% of its oil revenues in a compensation fund for Kuwaiti war victims, and to pay for UN costs in Iraq. But far more significant and far more difficult to reach agreement on is Britain's proposal for dropping other economic and trade sanctions in return for Iraq agreeing to full access to UN arms inspectors. Under the plan, a new disarmanent body, the UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission (Unmovic), would replace the former UN special commission (Unscom), which collapsed after American and British air strikes on Iraq in operation Desert Fox a year ago, and amid allegations that Washington had used a UN agency to spy on Baghdad. Within 60 days Unmovic would draw up a timetable and a list of demands relating to Iraq's potential to manufacture nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missiles. Once the UN security council agreed to a mandate for the new weapons inspection team, the cap on Iraqi oil exports would be lifted and procedures allowing Baghdad to import food, medicine and agricultural equipment would be streamlined. The most contentious issue is the trigger that would lift sanctions. Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has proposed a series of "stepping stone" reviews that would eventually lead to lifting the sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Britain is demanding strict conditions, with Baghdad first having to "cooperate fully" with the Unmovic inspectors. Even then sanctions would be suspended only for a limited period. Further reviews, UN resolutions and security council votes would be needed until agreement that Iraq had "fully complied" with the inspectors' demands. Russia, backed by China, wants more detailed criteria that, when met, would automatically lead to the lifting of sanctions. It insists that the security council should specify in advance what Baghdad should do. France's position seemed unclear last night, though Alain Dejammet, the French ambasador to the UN, on Thursday expressed sympathy for Russia's objections. Also in dispute is whether a security council vote would be needed to continue the sanctions, or suspend or end them. Britain is prepared to pursue the talks until early next week in its attempt to get a unanimous resolution. ) Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 1999 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi