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News for period 7 to 15 Feb, 2000

News for Period 7 to 15 Feb, 2000,

Apologies for the delay this week.

Sources: Reuters, AP,

Thanks to Colin Rowat and Peter Griffith for the articles they supplied.

Some very important events this last week, including demonstrations around
the world, Von Sponeck's resignation and James Rubin's callous reply, as
well as at least 3 bombing raids.


* Von Sponeck resigns and calls for an end to sanctions. James Rubin refers
to resignation as "good".

* Demonstrations in NY against sanctions. Over 80 arrested.

* Iraqi newspaper states that over 8000 civillians have been killed since
the Gulf War by US/UK air forces.

* Protestors at UN trade conference in Thailand call for an end to

* US/UK forces bomb Iraq at least 3 times in the last 8 days.

* Oil prices have risen substantially.

* Iraq says that oil exports will be reduced without more spare parts.

+ some other reports.

FEBRUARY 15, 02:50 EST

Focus on Impact of Iraq Sanctions

Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS (AP)  The resignation of the U.N. humanitarian coordinator
for Iraq has again  focused attention on how sanctions are affecting
ordinary Iraqis and renewed questions about the  effectiveness of U.N.
relief programs in the country.

The departure of Hans von Sponeck, who called for an end to U.N. sanctions,
came at a time when  the U.N. humanitarian program was supposed to be
improving following the decision by the Security Council in December to try
to get more aid to Iraqis faster.

While the United States has supported the new Iraq policy, it is wary of
implementing the changes before weapons inspections resume in Iraq.
Washington has held up contracts  mostly to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and
power plants  fearing such equipment could be used for military purposes.

Von Sponeck, a German diplomat, hasn't commented since he announced his
resignation Sunday. But diplomats in Baghdad and U.N. officials in New York
said the career U.N. civil servant found it too difficult to work under the


 Von Sponeck's call for the sanctions to be lifted earned him the wrath of
the United States and
 Britain. He also wanted the Security Council to separate the issues of
humanitarian aid and
 disarmament in Iraq.

He is the second humanitarian coordinator to quit. Denis Halliday resigned
in 1998 after deciding he didn't want to be associated with the sanctions
any longer.

Von Sponeck's announcement came as protesters mounted a second day of
demonstrations Monday in New York to demand an end to the sanctions. More
than 100 people demonstrated on the front steps of the U.S. Mission to the
United Nations and 86 were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct
after they refused to leave.

 ``I think this is the worst case of child abuse today,'' said Bert Sacks,
58, a protester from Seattle
 who said he had traveled to Iraq a half-dozen times bringing medicine to
Iraqis in violation of the sanctions.

 Such sentiments have caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington, 70 of
whom wrote to
 President Clinton last month urging that sanctions be lifted. Some of the
lawmakers scheduled a news conference on Wednesday to highlight the cause.

 ``They need clean water and sewage treatment. Without that, food and
medicine are useless,'' said protester Chris Allen-Doucot as he was being

 Iraq's trade minister, Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, warned this weekend that
Baghdad will consider cutting back its oil output even further unless the
``holds'' on oil spare parts are lifted.

 With world oil prices rising and supplies tight, a substantial cut in Iraqi
exports could push prices higher if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries continues to restrict its production.

Victims of the US and British air raids in Iraq
Iraq, Politics, 2/14/2000

The Iraqi daily al-Thawra reported on Sunday that more than
8,000 Iraqi civilians hvae been killed in the raids carried out by
US and British warplanes against Iraq since 1991.

Al-Thawra said the bombardment by US and British planes of
Iraqi civil targets since the launch of the Gulf War resulted in the
deaths of some 8,243 Iraqi civilians, including 420 children under
the age of four and 2,010 women.

The Iraqi paper published these new statistics in an article issued
on the anniversary of the US bombardment of Al-Amereyeh
shelter in Baghdad in February 1991. This bombardment resulted
in killing 403 civilians.


U.S. Gasoline Pump Price at
Record High

Monday, February 14, 2000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. drivers continued to be hit with
sticker shock at the pump as the average price for gasoline
increased 3.1 cents over the past week to a record $1.356 a
gallon, the U.S. Energy Department said on Monday.

This is the highest cost for motor fuel on record since the
department began tracking weekly gasoline prices in 1990 after
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

The national retail price for unleaded gasoline is up almost 44
cents from year-ago levels, based on the department's weekly
survey of 800 service stations.

Gasoline prices are high due to rising crude oil prices caused by
production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) and strong U.S. demand for oil.

Crude oil for delivery in March settled at $30.25 a barrel at the
New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday, up 81 cents for the
day and the highest price since the Gulf War in 1991.

The department predicts gasoline prices will peak at a record
$1.43 a gallon during the height of the driving season this spring.
When adjusted for inflation, however, the forecast price will be
about 20 percent lower than the price spike experienced during
the Gulf War in late 1990, the department said.

FEBRUARY 12, 12:39 EST

Peaceful Protest at UN Trade Meeting

Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)  Hundreds of police braced for a repeat of the
violent protests that plunged Seattle into chaos last December were greeted
instead by only a few minutes of pushing Saturday at the opening of an
international trade conference in Thailand.

Most of the 1,000 demonstrators at the first day of the weeklong U.N.
Conference on Trade and Development were poor farmers from the Thai
countryside who sat down in a major intersection after police blocked them
from coming down the street to the convention center.

 Protests got so out of hand at the World Trade Organization meeting last
year that the National Guard was called in and a curfew was imposed. There
was more than $2 million in property damage.

 The brief shoving match was the only disturbance Saturday as a mixed bag of
demonstrators came to voice their concerns.

 From the environment to the economy, from local to international, the
diversity of issues was evident on the  banners they carried: ``Save the
Moon River Watershed,'' ``No Sanction Iraq,'' ``Stop Trade with Dictatorial

 But issues of trade and globalization were the main focus, reflected in the
banner at the front of the crowd that told the WTO, the International
Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to ``Go to

 ``We need no trade liberalization if we  poor people  have to sacrifice
so much when the rich become richer and richer,'' said Bamroong Khayotha, a
leader of the group Assembly of the Poor.

 One group of women from a garment factory made a halfhearted attempt to
push its way in, but was blocked by a line of unarmed police. Eventually, a
few hundred were allowed to proceed to the street opposite the convention
center, where a conference official came out to meet them.

 ``We are all friends  police and the poor,'' said Police Col. Pramote
Prathumwong. ``We try our best to avoid violence: when they come in peace,
they should be treated in the same manner.''

 Among the foreign activists was Patricia Alonso, of Mexico, who came with a
network of organizations working to keep agriculture from coming under WTO

 ``These issues should not be in the hands of the powerful, these are issues
that belong to us,'' she told the crowd.

 Awni Behnem, secretary of the conference, said that UNCTAD shares the
concerns of developing countries for a better future and greater
opportunities for their people: ``Your cause is our cause.''
Annan Accepts Resignation in Iraq

 Associated Press Writer

 SINGAPORE, (AP)  U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday he had
accepted the resignation of the chief of the U.N. humanitarian program in
Iraq  who has angered Washington and its allies by making pro-Baghdad

 The letter of resignation from Hans von Sponeck ``with regret,'' Annan
said. He did not specify when the resignation had been tendered.

 ``Hans von Sponeck has served the U.N. well for about 36 years,'' said
Annan, who is in Singapore to meet officials during an Asia tour.
WIRE:02/11/2000 19:26:00 ET
UN official in Iraq expected to leave job in April

 UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The senior U.N.  humanitarian
coordinator in Baghdad, who has run afoul of the  United States and Britain,
is expected to leave his post in  early April, sources at the United Nations
said on Friday.
Hans von Sponeck, a German career U.N. official, has  recently spoken out
more forcefully against nine year-old  sanctions imposed against Iraq and
said the U.N. oil-for-food  programme he heads was not meeting minimum
requirements to ease  the impact of the embargoes.

He will return to New York for consultations at the end of  March and then
go back to Baghdad briefly before leaving his  post, the sources said.

U.N. spokesman John Mills refused to comment but said the  New York visit
had been scheduled as early as last November.

Asked about von Sponeck's expected departure, U.S. State  Department
spokesman James Rubin said: "Good."

"I think an article in the Iraqi press praising his  approach to his work is
ample evidence of his unsuitability of  this post," Rubin said.

"His job is to work on behalf of Iraqi people and not the  regime and we
look forward to an able manager who will maximize  the benefits of the
oil-for-food programme," he added.

On Friday, the Iraqi newspaper, al-Tharwa, said von  Sponeck's analysis was
based on facts and figures. "He did not  publish personal viewpoints
irrelevant to his job when he talked  about the deterioration of the health
or food situation in  Iraq," it said.

Von Sponeck, was appointed to the post on Oct. 26, 1998, the  fifth
humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad for the programme that  allows Baghdad
to sell oil and purchase food, medicine and other  goods under tight

In November, Secretary-General Kofi Annan extended his term  to April 25
rather than for a year as some expected but he  refused to release him
immediately as Washington had wanted.

Von Sponeck had been told at the time to curb his public  statements. But he
resumed interviews with German and U.S. media  this month, an indication he
planned to leave his job.


U.S. officials last year accused von Sponeck of siding with  Iraq in a
propaganda battle over who is to blame for the  suffering of the Iraqi
people: the West, for imposing harsh  economic sanctions, or Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein, for  failing to comply with terms for lifting those

Von Sponeck had also complained that the oil-for-food  programme suffered
because of the holds placed on Iraqi imports.

The United States has frozen 1,000 contracts, a situation  criticised by
nearly all U.N. officials and diplomats. Britain  runs a low second with
about 120 contracts on hold.

In November, Fred Eckhard, Annan's chief spokesman, said he  believed that
anyone serving in such a sensitive job would  inevitably offend one country
or the other.

02/11/2000 16:02:00 ET
Iraq may cut oil again unless parts delivered

 BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq said Friday it would cut its  oil exports
under the oil-for-food exchange with the United  Nations by at least another
250,000 barrels per day if the  United States kept blocking contracts for
spare parts.
"We might extend further the reduction -- that means easily  another quarter
million or more if we lose hope of getting holds  removed from our
contracts," Iraqi Oil Minister General Amir  Muhammed Rasheed told CNN

Latest export figures from the United Nations indicate that  Iraq's sales
have fluctuated in the past weeks, dropping to 1.4  million barrels per day
in the week ending Jan. 28 from 1.86  million barrels per day the week

Last week Iraqi officials said exports had fallen off  because of a lack of
spare parts for their dilapidated oil  industry and because of poor weather
at the Mina-al-Bakr  terminal in southern Iraq.

With oil prices hitting a peak of $27 a barrel and world  supplies tight,
any further cut in Iraqi exports could send oil  prices even higher.

Early last year, when oil prices were low, Baghdad pushed  production near
to maximum levels, to the point of damaging its  installations.

"We knew before that we were doing damage, but we consider  that was
short-term damage and the process could be reversed.  But to continue that
was really out of the question," Rasheed  said.

Under the deal with the United Nations, Baghdad is allowed  to sell oil to
buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods  for its people.

Iraqi officials have said Baghdad will observe a six-month  $5.26 billion
ceiling on exports because it does not accept the  terms of a more recent
U.N. Security Council resolution that  eliminated the limit.

The United Nations also allows Iraq to buy $300 million  worth of spare
parts every six months to repair its oil  industry, devastated by U.S.-led
bombings during the 1991 Gulf  War as well as by the sanctions.

But the parts often have been rejected or have not won swift  approval at
the United Nations. Baghdad often has accused the  U.S. envoy at the U.N.
sanctions committee of blocking contracts  for parts.
FEBRUARY 11, 20:25 EST

 Iraq May Allow Arms Inspectors In

 Associated Press Writer

 UNITED NATIONS (AP)  Even though Iraq's vice president said his country
will not allow U.N. arms inspectors back into the country, members of the
Security Council think Baghdad may change its mind.

 Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's foreign affairs deputy, left open the possibility of
compromise on Friday  if the council engages Iraq in a discussion of its
concerns about the new inspection regime.

 ``Compromise will only be done when the council itself gets engaged with
Iraq in a discussion,'' he told CNN. ``It has not happened yet.''

 Under U.N. resolutions, economic sanctions against Iraq cannot be lifted
until inspectors report that Baghdad is free of its weapons of mass
destruction. Hamdoon said Iraq can live with sanctions ``forever.''

 But some council members believe Iraq will eventually accept the return of
inspectors. U.N. Ambassador Peter Van Walsum of the Netherlands said
Thursday he believes the Iraqis will change their minds.

 ``They have to say `yes' ... and if they don't react, then we'll just have
to wait. But I cannot imagine that that is `no' forever,'' he said.

 Iraqi leaders have repeatedly said they won't deal with a new Iraq policy
adopted by the council on Dec. 17, whose primary aim is to return weapons
inspectors for the first time since December 1998.

 Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan's remarks Thursday were the most
negative to date.

 ``There shall be no return of the so-called inspection teams. We reject the
infiltration by spies using such cover,'' the official Iraqi News Agency
quoted Ramadan as saying.

 The Security Council never expected Iraq to roll out the welcome mat for
new inspectors, so there was little surprise at the vice president's

 ``That's one attempt,'' Malaysia's U.N. ambassador Agam Hasmy said. ``We
have to make more attempts. All those who can speak to Iraq will have to

 The Dec. 17 resolution creates a new U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission which will be headed by Hans Blix, former
director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 Blix is expected to assume the post on March 1 and has 45 days to organize
and staff the commission and dispatch inspectors to determine Iraq's
remaining disarmament tasks.

 The council will consider suspending sanctions for renewable 120-day
periods if inspectors report that Iraq has cooperated ``in all respects''
and shown progress towards answering the outstanding disarmament questions.

 Malaysia's Hasmy stressed that ``there's no quick solution.''

 ``We need patience and need to engage Iraq as we have been saying in the
council,'' he said. ``I still believe that the secretary-general can play a
role here to try to bridge the gap.''

 But Kofi Annan may not be anxious to intervene again in an Iraqi standoff.
Iraq reneged on a February 1998 agreement Annan negotiated in Baghdad to
allow unfettered weapons inspections.
Thursday February 10 2:01 PM ET

 Western Warplanes Again Bomb Iraq

 BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Renewed Western air raids in northern Iraq injured two
civilians Thursday, the official Iraqi News Agency said.

 ``The enemy attacked our service and civilian installations, injuring two
citizens,'' INA quoted a military spokesman as saying.

 He said the warplanes flew over the northern provinces of Duhok, Arbil and
Nineveh before returning to bases in Turkey after being ``intercepted'' by
 anti-aircraft forces.

 The spokesman said other foreign warplanes flew over southern regions of
the country but he reported no incident.

 The U.S. military's European Command confirmed that U.S. and British
warplanes struck Iraq's air defense system in the north after the Iraqis
fired anti-aircraft guns
 and a surface-to-air missile at patroling jets west of Bashiqah and near
Tall Kayf.

 The aircraft returned safely to base in Turkey following the third
successive day of raids in Iraq's northern ``no-fly'' zone, the command

 U.S. and British planes patrol ``no-fly'' zones over southern and northern
Iraq set up after the 1991 Gulf War. The zones, which Baghdad does not
recognize, were
 imposed to protect a Kurdish enclave in the north and Shiite Muslim marsh
dwellers in the south from possible attacks by the Iraqi army.

 The Western planes have been bombing targets in the two zones more
frequently since Baghdad stepped up its defiance of the Western-imposed
restrictions in
 December 1998.

 INA also said the death toll from a Western air strike in southern Iraq
Wednesday had risen to four from three.

 On Wednesday, Iraq said three people were killed and eight wounded when
Western warplanes attacked sites in southern Iraq.

 ``The masses in Wassit province paid their final respects today to four of
their sons who fell as martyrs yesterday in the bombing by U.S. and British
planes of a civil
 installation in the (provincial city of) Kut,'' INA said.

 Kut is 110 miles southeast of Baghdad.
DUBAI (Reuters) February 10, 2000:- Iraq has agreed in principle to a =
plan to recover and identify the remains of a Saudi Arabian air force pilot
buried in =
Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War, a Saudi official was quoted as saying on

   Prince Turki bin Saud, Saudi foreign ministry director of =
international organisations, told the Saudi Okaz daily that the kingdom had
agreed to a plan by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to
retrieve the body of the pilot.

   "Iraq has voiced its principle agreement to the plan in an official =
memo to the ICRC," he said. He said the plan called for sending
international experts to Iraq to = find and identify the body said by Iraq
to be buried in a minefield.

   Prince Turki said implementation of the plan was expected to start =
once Iraq gave its final
   approval when an ICRC team visits Baghdad next week.

   Iraq had said that in 1997 it informed Saudi Arabia through the ICRC =
that it had found the
   wreckage of the plane and an Iraqi officer who had buried the pilot`s =
body in a desert minefield
   had also come forward.

   Hundreds of people were reported as taken to Iraq after a U.S.-led =
multinational force ended the
   occupation of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia served as one of the bases for the =
international force and
   some of its pilots participated in the bombing of Iraq during the =
Gulf War.

   Accounting for missing hostages and PoWs is one of several conditions =
Iraq must meet before U.N. trade sanctions imposed after its invasion of
Kuwait can be =
Wednesday February 9 9:22 AM ET

 Russian Tanker To Unload Cargo

 By SAEED AL-NAHDI Associated Press Writer

 MUSCAT, Oman (AP) - A Russian tanker detained by the U.S. Navy for
allegedly smuggling Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions
 will begin unloading its cargo in an Omani port on Thursday, a Foreign
Ministry official said.

 The oil will be emptied either directly into storage tanks in the Fahl
port, or onto another tanker before being transferred for storage
 in the port, the official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
Wednesday February 9 5:35 PM ET

 High Prices Spur Iraq Oil Smuggling

By ANWAR FARUQI Associated Press Writer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Smugglers evading U.S. destroyers in the
Persian Gulf are shipping more and more Iraqi oil in violation of U.N.
sanctions, reaping handsome profits and lining the pockets of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein, the U.S. Navy says.

Last week's seizure of a Russian tanker carrying illicit Iraqi fuel
highlighted the issue of Iraqi oil smuggling, which the U.S. Navy estimates
has nearly doubled in six months. U.N. naval forces seized the tanker off
the Emirates'

 The 4,000 tons of oil - equivalent to 29,320 barrels - seized from the
Volga-Neft-147 is only a fraction of what is getting through,
 said Cmdr. Jeff Gradeck, spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy 5th

 In January, when oil prices hit nine-year highs of about $28 a barrel,
367,000 tons - 2.7 million barrels - of Iraqi oil were smuggled out,
according to Navy estimates. Last September, when prices were about $19 a
barrel, 191,000 tons - 1.4 million
 barrels - were smuggled out, Gradeck said.

 ``The amount of oil smuggled out of Iraq has doubled since August last
year, when oil prices began to increase,'' Gradeck said in a telephone
interview Wednesday from Bahrain. ``That means increased profits for the
smugglers and increased profits for the
 Iraqi regime.''
Tuesday February 8 6:54 AM ET

 Top UN Official Urges End to Iraq Trade Sanctions

 BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The senior United Nations humanitarian coordinator in
Baghdad urged an end to U.N. sanctions on Iraq, calling them ``a true human

 Hans von Sponeck, a German, told CNN television in an interview monitored
in Baghdad late on Monday night that the United Nations' oil-for-food
program was
 not meeting the ''minimum requirements'' of the Iraqi people.

 The program was set up, with von Sponeck at its head, to ease the hardship
of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

 ``As a U.N. official, I should not be expected to be silent to that which I
recognize as a true human tragedy that needs to be ended,'' von Sponeck

 ``How long the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this,
should be exposed to such punishment for something that they have never
done?'' he asked.

 Von Sponeck has drawn harsh criticism from the United States and Britain
for similar statements he has made in the past.

 Press reports have said Washington and London were pushing for his
dismissal, but Secretary General Kofi Annan was believed to have resisted
and asked him to
 stay for another year.

 ``I am...very sorry that two important member governments are questioning
my integrity and questioning whether I stay within my bounds,'' he said.

 ``I Cannot Be Silent''

 ``The very title that I hold as a humanitarian coordinator suggests that I
cannot be silent over that which we see here ourselves.''

 Asked if he thought he could keep the job in the face of U.S. and British
opposition, he said: ``If I am leaving for the right reasons then I will not
regret it, but the
 moment I am in this job I will do my work as best as I can.''

 The oil-for-food deal allows Baghdad to sell $5.26 billion worth of crude
oil over six months to buy food, medicine and other supplies for the Iraqi

 Von Sponeck said the program had ``certainly done some good'' for the Iraqi
people but did not ``guarantee the minimum of that a human being requires
which is
 clearly defined in the universal declaration of human rights.''

Tuesday February 8 11:16 AM ET

 Western Aircraft Bomb Northern Iraq, U.S. Says

 BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States European Military Command (Eucom) said
Western military aircraft had bombed Iraqi air defense sites Tuesday after
 coming under anti-aircraft fire.

 Eucom, based in Stuttgart, Germany, said in a statement that planes
patrolling the northern no-fly zone over Iraq, acting in self-defense,
dropped bombs on the
 Iraqi air defenses.

 The attacks came from a site west of Bashiqah. All coalition aircraft
returned safely to their base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, Eucom said. It
gave no details of
 damage caused.

 Around 40 U.S. and British aircraft have been enforcing the northern no-fly
zone since the Gulf War in 1991.

Wednesday February 9 8:52 AM ET

 U.S. Fighter Jets Strike Iraq Site

 ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense system
Wednesday in response to artillery fire as they
 patrolled a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.

 The U.S. planes hit a site near Bashiqah, about 250 miles north of Baghdad,
the Germany-based U.S. European Command said
 in a statement.

 All of the planes, based at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, left the
area safely, the statement said.


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