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Sheffield Campaign's SCR 1284 briefing

Sheffield Campaign Against War in the Gulf

c/o 6 Bedford Road, Oughtibridge, Sheffield S35 0FB
0114 2663597; 0114 2862336


Briefing 17 December 1999


On 17 December, the UN Security Council ended a twelve-month deadlock on
Iraq by passing Security Council Resolution 1284. The Blair government
played a major role, with UK diplomats producing the draft and chairing
the sessions of the Security Council.
SCR 1284 must be analysed in the context of the ten-year long failure of
the US/UK coalition to remove the insubordinate regime of Saddam Hussein
and replace it with a pro-Western protectorate.
SCR 1284 must be weighed alongside the other dimensions of US/UK policy
towards Iraq, in particular the weekly and sometimes daily US/UK attacks
on Iraq's air defences and telecommunications; and the stepped-up
efforts by the US to set up a credible armed opposition in parts of Iraq
outside Baghdad's control.
SCR 1284 fits in with the real US/UK policy of regime removal, by giving
a flimsy legal cover for future large-scale armed action against the
Iraqi nation. How far they will be able to travel down this role, of
course, depends not on UN resolutions but on the real balance of forces
between the US and its SC rivals, and on the strength of world-wide
opposition to imperialist intervention.
The task before the anti-sanctions, anti-war movement is to expose the
real aims and motives of the US and UK governments. We must tell the
truth about SCR 1284. It is a disgusting, cynical, hypocritical cover-up
for mass murder! The Security Council resolution is a vote for war!

SCR 1284 promises sanctions forever

The new Security Council resolution has been reported in the media as
offering a lifting of sanctions, provided Iraq allows UN weapons
inspectors to return to complete their mission of "ridding Iraq of
weapons of mass destruction".
In fact, the resolution promises sanctions in perpetuity. Even if the US
and UK were to accept a "totally clean" verdict, Iraq would continue to
be submitted to "effective financial and other operational measures to
ensure that Iraq does not acquire prohibited items", in other words,
sanctions, against any item deemed to be potentially "dual-use" (i.e. of
possible military application - which could include machinery of all
types, computers, vehicles, medical and telecommunications equipment.)
The partial lifting of sanctions purportedly offered by the new
resolution would allow the Iraqi government to at least touch its own
money if not spend it freely. At present, all revenues from oil sales
are deposited in an "escrow" account controlled by the UN Sanctions
Committee. The resolution specifies that the partial lifting of
sanctions would need to be reviewed every 120 days - an uncertainty
which is guaranteed to cripple Iraq's efforts to secure foreign
investment. At any point, a report from the so-called weapons inspectors
alleging so much as a single instance of Iraqi non-compliance would
cause automatic reimposition of full sanctions; this could only be
over-ridden by decision of the Security Council, in which of course the
US and UK wield veto powers.

The humanitarian crisis

The resolution states that the promise of a partial lifting of sanctions
has the "fundamental objective of improving the humanitarian situation
in Iraq". This implicitly contradicts Messrs. Blair and Cook, who have
often repeated their absurd claim that sanctions are not a factor in
Iraq's humanitarian crisis.
Growing world-wide condemnation of the current sanctions regime has
forced the US and UK to accept a number of modifications - notably the
lifting of the ceiling on Iraq's oil exports. But Iraq's oil industry is
in a terrible condition, and is already pumping oil as fast as it can.
For the first time in ten years, Iraqis will be able to receive medical,
scientific and educational journals. UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan has
publicly criticised the US and UK for obstructing the delivery of $500
million of humanitarian items - the new resolution transfers authority
over a 'green list' of non dual-use food and medical items to Kofi
So maybe, as a result of this resolution, one Iraqi child will die every
ten minutes instead of every six minutes as at present.

SCR 1284 marks a new stage in the crisis

Russia, China and France - three of the five veto-wielding permanent
members of the Security Council - abstained on the resolution. This
seriously undermines its credibility and practically invites Iraq to
stand by its so-far vehement rejection of the whole package.
The centrepiece of the new resolution is a demand that Iraq accepts the
return of "UN weapons inspectors", to be renamed UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission). UNMOVIC differs only in name
from its predecessor, UNSCOM. It is crucial to recall the reasons for
and the manner of UNSCOM's demise one year ago. As revealed by Scott
Ritter and other weapons inspectors who have resigned in disgust, UNSCOM
had strayed far from its UN mandate by first acting as spies and
pathfinders for the US military; it then deliberately sought
confrontation with the Iraqi government, with the aim of providing a
pretext for the resumption of bombing.
In the end, UNSCOM withdrew its staff and the US and UK had fired off
524 cruise missiles before UNSCOM's report had even reached the UN
Security Council. So gross and blatant was this behaviour that it has
seriously aggravated the year-long deadlock on the Security Council.
What guarantee has Iraq got that UNMOVIC won't do the same? Absolutely
none. Not even a promise. What sovereign nation would allow spies and
agents of hostile, attacking powers to instantaneously enter any room in
any government building, carry away any quantity of files for
inspection, at any time of the day or night?
UNMOVIC, like UNSCOM before it, is an attack on Iraq's sovereignty, and
Iraq is fully entitled to bar their return.

Resolution 1284 creates a pretext for war.

It is no secret that the US government's real policy is to use sanctions
and military force to engineer the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his
replacement with a more compliant strong man. Clinton's accomplices in
Westminster seem to be more nervous about openly espousing this illegal
policy, one which so brazenly contradicts SCR 1284's own assertion of
"the commitment of all Member States to [Iraq's] sovereignty,
territorial integrity and political independence".
The moment of truth will be in a few months time, when UNMOVIC is ready
to return to Iraq. What will happen when, as seems likely, Iraq refuses
to let them in? If Iraq does refuse, how will the US and UK seek to
enforce the resolution?

In conclusion

The UN vote will prolong the intense humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
The UN vote makes an intensification of military aggression more likely.


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