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Gulf sanction busting patrols boost

>From :

Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 03:31 GMT

Gulf sanction busting patrols boost

The Russian tanker is being unloaded in Oman

Efforts to prevent illegal oil exports from Iraq are to be stepped up after 
a Russian tanker was stopped by US patrols in the Gulf.
US Defence Secretary William Cohen said intercept operations are to be 
increased after a perceived rise in illegal operations, possibly due to the 
rising price of oil.

The announcement came as a Russian tanker, the Volgoneft-147, was being 
unloaded in Oman.

Washington says the ship was carrying with Iraqi oil and had an Iraqi naval 
officer on board.

Mr Cohen said that the oil found on board the Vologoneft-147 would be sold 
to help meet the costs of enforcing the oil embargo.

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The Americans say there is no evidence the Russian government has sanctioned 
illegal oil sales.

And the Russian authorities, which initially insisted the oil came from 
Iran, are now distancing themselves from the affair by saying it is a matter 
for the tanker's owner.

Mr Cohen said: "We are intensifying the interception operations. We and the 
United Nations want to maintain a containment policy to make sure that we 
intercept as many illegal operations as we can."

The US navy-led interception force is policing the Gulf to prevent the 
smuggling in and out of Iraq of goods banned under UN sanctions imposed 
after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Iraq is allowed to sell oil worth $5.26bn every six months under UN 
supervision to buy food and medicine.

Russia insists it is complying in full with the sanctions, but has expressed 
growing dissatisfaction with a lack of progress in easing or lifting the 

Iraq earlier accused the US of piracy for seizing the Russian tanker.

The newspaper of the ruling Baath party said: "This action reflects the 
level of contempt the United States has for the interests of other 


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