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Write to the papers !

The following is the news coverage of the Iraq vote in The Independent,
Guardian, Times and Financial Times. Because of the Sunday papers, anyone
wishing to write a letter to the editor has until (approx.) 3pm tomorrow
afternoon (ie. Sunday 19th).

The e-mail addresses are

You should include a home telephone number.

Be aware that the Times have a policy that their letters must be exclusive
and, if they're interested in publishing your letter, will ring you up to
check on this !

The Telegraph also had coverage but they don't update their web-site at
the weekends.




UN plan to ease anti-Iraq sanctions 

Michael White, Political Editor 
Saturday December 18, 1999 

The British and US governments went on the offensive last night to
convince sceptics of the effectiveness and the humanity of the latest
Anglo-American formula for easing sanctions against Iraq. 
Under the plan sanctions would be lifted for a trial period of 120 days in
return for renewed cooperation with UN weapons inspectors. It also
explicitly raises the prospect of a permanent end to the widely-criticised
embargo if reviews show that Saddam Hussein's regime has made sustained
progress on disarmament. 

The British-initiated plan was endorsed by the security council in New
York last night by 11 votes in favour with four abstentions - including
three of the five permanent members - Russia, China and, to Whitehall's
chagrin, France. 

The last-minute refusal of France, which is sensitive to commercial
opportunities in the region, to back the resolution undermined confidence
in the agreement. Whitehall officials stressed that France could have
vetoed the resolution, but settled for an abstention. 

But it is feared that Saddam Hussein will not accept the latest offer,
preferring instead to exploit the divisions of the security council. 

It was non-compliance with the then-UN weapons inspectors which led to
last year's US and British air attacks, Operation Desert Fox, on Iraq. 

The resolution will set up a new weapons inspection commission, the UN
Monitoring Verification (Unmovic). A chairman will be appointed by the
secretary general, Kofi Annan, within 30 days. 

The new UN plan will also allow for the permanent lifting of the ceiling
on Iraq's oil exports, making more money available for the oil for food

This general relaxation of terms would allow the Baghdad regime more scope
to buy food, medicines and other necessities. Help might also be provided
to increase Iraqi oil exports. 

British officials admit that there is no guarantee that Saddam will
cooperate with the new weapons inspectors but say the UN is willing to
wait for as long as it takes. 

"During the suspension there would need to be controls to ensure that the
money that flows from the trade permitted is not used by Iraq for purposes
forbidden in the resolution," said a Downing Street spokesman. 

"We have been clear throughout that the suffering of the Iraqi people ...
is entirely the responsibility of Saddam and his brutal regime." 



New inspectorate offers Iraq a way out of sanctions 

By David Usborne in New York 

18 December 1999 

Overcoming a year of division and diplomatic paralysis, the United Nations
Security Council last night adopted a sweeping new resolution on Iraq that
plots a direct route to the suspension of nine-year-old sanctions if
Saddam Hussein co-operates with a new weapons inspection regime. 

The text, drafted by Britain, which currently also holds the council
 all permanent members with the power of veto presidency, was passed by 11
votes in the 15-member council. While they
voiced reservations about the provisions, Russia, China and France 
 abstained, as did Malaysia, a non-permanent member. 

"The adoption of this resolution is an exceptional achievement for the
council, one which is fully in the interests of the Iraqi people and of
the international community," Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British
ambassador, commented after the vote. 

The resolution creates a new UN weapons inspection body for Iraq, the UN
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission or Unmovic. It replaces
Unscom, the UN Special Commission, which has, in partnership with the
International Atomic Energy Agency, been responsible for weeding out
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction since sanctions were imposed in
August 1990 following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. 

It also means the immediate lifting of limits on the amount of crude that
Iraq can export onto the world market under the oil-for-food regime that
was introduced in an attempt to offset civilian suffering in the country.
Until yesterday, Iraq was permitted to sell oil worth $5.26bn (#3bn) every
six months. 

However Iraq has already signalled in advance that it would reject the
resolution, which provides for the return of the arms inspectors and
continued financial controls. 

If Iraq refuses to co-operate, it may even opt to keep exports beneath the
$5.26bn ceiling. "Iraq categorically rejects the British proposal," the
Deputy Prime Minister, Tareq Aziz, asserted in a letter to Kofi Annan, the
UN secretary general, written before the resolution's adoption. 

The Iraqi president yesterday summoned his top aides to a meeting as the
Council met to consider the resolution. Policy towards Iraq has been in
ruins ever since the United States and Britain launched a heavy
bombardment of his country on December 16 last year. Operation Desert Fox
aimed to punish Iraq for failing to co-operate with the UN weapons
inspectors branded as US and Israeli spies by Baghdad. 

The two countries have kept up a low-level bombardment against Iraq in "no
fly" zones in the north and south of the country since then. But during
that time, the council has been deeply divided and there has been no
supervision of Iraq's weapons activities. 

The resolution lays out a timetable for the suspension of the main
sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait. After its first
120 days working in Iraq, Unmovic would report to the council on progress. 

The deliberately vague text, which was furiously fought over, provides for
suspension of the sanctions if Iraq has shown its willingness to
"co-operate in all respects" with inspectors. All could depend, however,
on the interpretation of that phrase, both by Unmovic and by the members
of the Security Council. 

Britain and the US are expected to insist on the most stringent of
interpretations while friends of Iraq, including Russia and China, will
take a more lenient approach. 



Trade embargo 'doubled the death rate' 

By David Usborne in New York 

18 December 1999 

The misery in Iraq is not over yet. The population has suffered too much
to imagine that one document passed in the chamber of the United Nations
Security Council in New York is going to bring comfort and consolation

But the resolution does offer some hope for relief. That the blanket trade
sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1990 have done terrible harm to innocent
civilians is no longer an issue for argument. For years, aid organisations
and even departments within the United Nations have been drawing the
world's attention to the chronic shortages of food, water and medicine in
Iraq and to the soaring mortality rates, especially among children. 

In its latest survey of conditions in Iraq, done in August, Unicef, the UN
children's fund, estimated that in the country's central and southern
regions, where President Saddam Hussein's regime is most firmly in
control, the death rate had more than doubled since the imposition of the
embargo in August 1990. Moreover, the agency argues that about 500,000
Iraqi children who have died in that time would have lived but for the

The argument over the morality of the sanctions is not resolved.
Washington, supported by Britain, has continued to defend them as the most
important instrument for punishing President Saddam and ultimately driving
him out. Officials will also make the point that the sanctions are in
place because of what President Saddam did in invading Kuwait. The people
have him to blame, in other words, not Western governments. 

The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, regularly points out that
the UN Security Council was forced to come up with a plan to feed the
Iraqi people because President Saddam preferred to spend his money on
weapons of mass destruction and ornate palaces. 

Among those who fault that logic is Denis Halliday, who gave up a 30-year
career at the UN last year because of his disgust with the sanctions
system. In his final years there, he oversaw the UN's humanitarian aid
programme to Iraq. Now he is leading a worldwide campaign to end the

"I think London and Washington have got to recognise the mistakes they've
made and be big enough to change it and come up with some new approach,"
he said recently. 

Yesterday's resolution does, for the first time, offer Iraq a direct and
relatively short road to the ending of sanctions. That could mean
everything to President Saddam's population. But Iraq has already vowed to
reject the resolution, which provides for the resumption of weapons

If President Saddam makes good on that threat, yesterday's text will be
virtually useless, just another twist in nine years of politicking and
diplomatic shadow-boxing that has left the Iraqi people as the powerless

One thing will happen automatically as a result of yesterday's decision.
The cap on the amount of oil that Iraq will be allowed to sell under the
oil-for-food programme will be lifted altogether. In other words, Iraq
will be able to export as much oil as it likes and import all the food and
medicine it requires. 

There are questions, though, over Iraq's physical capacity to export any
more crude oil than it does already. A group of independent experts
concluded in July that Iraqi oilfields were in a "lamentable" state
because of over-pumping and a disregard for the fragile oil



18th December 1999   

UN adopts new resolution on Iraq 

By Roula Khalaf in Washington, Carola Hoyos in London, and Michael
Littlejohns in New York

The United Nations security council on Friday adopted a new resolution on
Iraq to revive weapons inspections and improve the humanitarian situation
in a country still under comprehensive sanctions.

But abstentions highlighted continuing differences in the council on
policy over Iraq and reduced the chances of Baghdad complying with the

Eleven members of the 15-nation security council voted in favour but three
of the five permanent members - China, France and Russia - abstained, as
did Malaysia.

The resolution, backed by the US and UK and ending months of discussions,
offers an improved oil-for-food programme. It also creates a new
disarmament agency - the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission (Unmovic) - to resume inspections of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction programme.

However, it would only suspend the nine-year-old sanctions the UN put in
place after the Gulf war if Iraq complied with disarmament requirements.

Baghdad has already rejected the resolution, arguing it has fulfilled all
disarmament requirements and deserves an immediate lifting of sanctions.

The UK said a new security council resolution ended the deadlock on Iraq
policy, in spite of the abstentions.

"The council now has the policy which it needs and this resolution is now
the law of the globe," said Jeremy Greenstock, UK ambassador to the UN and
president of the council. We have a great deal of work to do to bring its
provisions into effect and we must do it together."

The search for a new UN policy gained momentum following last year's US
and UK air strikes on Iraq and the departure of UN weapons inspectors. But
after eight months of discussions, the five permanent members of the
council could not agree on what would trigger a suspension of sanctions.
France, Russia and China, seeking a quick lifting of the embargo, wanted
the suspension to occur after Iraq showed progress towards disarmament.

The US, however, insisted on a stricter condition - that Iraq should
fulfil "key" disarmament tasks. France, Russia and China fear the
ambiguous language will allow the US to keep sanctions on Baghdad

"The text should have been clearer especially in establishing the criteria
for the suspension of sanctions," said Alain Dejammet, French ambassador
to the UN.

Iraqi officials said the resolution placed even more onerous demands than
previous UN decisions since, effectively, disarmament would now lead to a
suspension of sanctions rather to a permanent lifting as stipulated by the
resolutions following the Gulf war. "We reject the resolution and we will
continue to reject it," said an Iraqi official. "It's a colonial mandate
on Iraq."

Ordinary Iraqis could see improvement in their lives even without Iraq's
acceptance of the decision. The resolution lifts the ceiling on the
oil-for-food programme - under which Iraq now can only sell up to $5.3bn
in oil every six months to buy food and medicine - regardless of whether
inspectors return to Iraq.

It also streamlines procedures on contract approval, making it easier to
import goods under the oil-for-food programme.

UK officials were hoping that once the new disarmament body is set up and
the key disarmament tasks spelt out, Russia, China and France might be
able to persuade Iraq to accept the resolution. "The real test of Iraq's
intentions will be in a few months, when the inspectors are ready and due
to arrive," said a UK official. "We expect Iraq's friends to convince
Baghdad to accept the resolution."



18th December 1999

UN offers Iraq sanctions relief

THE United Nations Security Council, ending a year of deadlock that
followed the allied bombing of Iraq, voted yesterday to adopt a
comprehensive new policy towards the renegade nation. 
After months of negotiation, the 15-nation council adopted a resolution
offering Iraq relief from UN sanctions in return for renewed co-operation
with UN arms inspectors looking for its weapons of mass destruction. 

Russia, France and China finally shied away from exercising their veto
power and allowed the resolution to pass 11-0 by abstaining, joined by

For Britain, which drafted the original proposal and led the painstaking
negotiations, the vote marked an important victory in the face of strong
objections from three of the five permanent members of the Security

"The adoption of this resolution is an exceptional achievement for the
council," Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's UN Ambassador, said. "The
council now has the policy which it needs; and this resolution is now the
law of the globe." 

But Baghdad has signalled that it rejects the UN's new approach and is
considered unlikely to accept the resolution for some time. 

After almost eight years of work, all UN inspectors were pulled out of
Iraq late last year after the Government blocked their activities,
triggering the US-led bombing campaign. 

Yesterday's resolution establishes a new UN disarmament body to be called
the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission to replace the
UN Special Commission, which was discredited by allegations that the US
had used it to spy on Iraq. Downing Street described the resolution as
"tough on Saddam and fair on the Iraqi people". 


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