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WP article and H.E.L.P

(As requested by Colin Rowat)
1. Description of H.E.L.P bill
2. WP article 
3. Jamie Rubin's response to article 

The "Humanitarian Exports Leading to Peace" (HELP) Act is set to be
introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday Feb. 29.  The
HELP Act does the following:
1.  Documents the findings of fact by independent organizations regarding
the suffering of millions of people in Iraq;
2. Changes domestic law to allow the export of food and medicine to Iraq,
and instructs the president to report to the Congress in six months on (1)
the amount of such exports, (2) any impact they have had on food security in
Iraq, (3) any potential diversion of such exports, and (4) what steps the
U.S. has taken through the United Nations to lift non-military sanctions on
3. Replaces the licensing requirement with a notification requirement;
4. Notes the size of the potential market in Iraq for imports from American

U.S. Looks at Easing Sanctions on Iraq

By John Lancaster and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 25, 2000; Page A01 

Under growing domestic and international pressure to lift sanctions on
Iraq, the Clinton administration is considering ways to ease restrictions
on the import of machinery, oil industry spare parts, pesticides and other
industrial products deemed necessary for the health and welfare of ordinary

As a member of the U.N. Security Council, the United States has frequently
exercised its right to block Iraq from acquiring items such as pesticide
sprayers, which can be used for biological warfare as well as for helping
farmers to grow food.

At the same time, there is rising concern on the part of Britain, France
and other U.S. allies that restrictions on such "dual use" technology are
undermining efforts to ease human suffering in Iraq. Mostly as a result of
U.S. objections, for example, the U.N. sanctions committee has held up $601
million in contracts for repairing Iraq's power grid, 48 percent of all the
contracts in that sector.

Similarly, the sanctions committee has placed "holds" on the import of $297
million in spare parts--or 38 percent of the total--intended for Iraq's oil
industry, according to U.N. data. Iraq uses its oil revenue to pay for
humanitarian imports under the U.N.-sponsored "oil-for-food" program.

Under pressure from fellow Security Council members, Washington has quietly
begun to review its screening of imports under the sanctions regime,
according to U.S. and Western officials. Earlier this week, for example,
U.S. officials agreed to release their hold on an $80 million electrical
repair contract on condition that U.N. workers verify that the parts are
used as intended, according to a spokesman for the U.N. Iraq program.

Administration officials have not advertised the change. In effect, they
are trying to walk a fine line between accommodating Security Council
allies, who want to show more flexibility on Iraqi imports, and doing
anything that might be perceived as making life easier for Saddam Hussein.

In considering Iraq's import requests, "We're trying to change the
presumption from passive denial to something with a little more forethought
in it," said a senior State Department official. "We want it to be more

Notwithstanding their desire to ease the plight of ordinary Iraqis, U.S.
officials say they are determined to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring
spare parts and technology for his military machine under the guise of
humanitarian imports--even if that means irritating fellow Security Council
members or handing Baghdad a propaganda victory.

"As the volume of transactions has increased, we want to be sure that we
can be as secure as possible [without] gratuitously impeding the
humanitarian program," the senior official said. "At the end of the day, if
we're going to make a judgment, I'd prefer to make that judgment
conservative and take the heat for it on the Security Council."

The review comes amid mounting pressure to relax or eliminate the
international trade embargo imposed on Baghdad after its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait. The sanctions, which place Iraqi oil revenue under U.N. control and
bar the country from importing anything without a clear humanitarian
purpose, have long been unpopular in the Arab world and in Europe.

But opposition has also been building in the United States. Last week, in
an appearance with Arab American leaders on Capitol Hill, House Minority
Whip David E. Bonior (D-Mich.) denounced the sanctions as "infanticide
masquerading as policy," adding, "This embargo hasn't hurt Saddam Hussein
or the pampered elite that supports him but has been devastating for
millions of Iraqi people."

In a study published last summer, UNICEF estimated that the death rate for
Iraqi children under 5 has doubled--from 56 per 1000 to 131 per 1,000--in
the decade since sanctions were imposed.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the suffering is real. But they say the
Iraqi government deserves most of the blame, accusing Baghdad of
mismanaging relief programs and diverting oil revenue to prop up the
regime. Last year, they note, Washington supported a council resolution
that lifted the ceiling on Iraqi oil sales to increase the revenues
available for humanitarian spending.

Critics of American policy say the continuing restrictions on imports of
goods other than food and medicine have inflicted needless misery on
ordinary Iraqis. European officials, for example, complain that the United
States has held up contracts to supply chlorine for water-treatment plants
and fogging machines to control malaria.

In Australia earlier this week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warned
that unless Iraq is allowed to import more spare parts for its oil
industry, "it may have to cut back on its production," imperiling the
country's only source of foreign currency.

In theory, any council member can ask the U.N. sanctions committee to place
a "hold" on a particular Iraqi contract. In practice only the United States
and, to a lesser extent, Britain, regularly choose to do so. Contracts are
reviewed by relevant agencies in Washington, such as the Defense
Department, which make recommendations to export-control officials in the
State Department.

State Department officials involved in the process defend their skeptical
approach, noting that Iraq skillfully adapted Western "dual use" technology
in its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs during the 1980s.
Chlorine, for example, can be used to make mustard gas as well as to purify

"My perspective on it is that Iraq's entire WMD [weapons of mass
destruction] program over the last two decades was constructed by
exploiting dual-use technology under a carefully orchestrated system of
alternate uses," said Steven Dolley of the Nuclear Control Institute, which
promotes nonproliferation efforts. "I don't think you can be too cautious."

In recent months, however, pressure on the United States has intensified as
Baghdad's increased oil revenue has translated into more requests for
imports. Increasingly, Baghdad is seeking contracts to repair the country's
damaged oil industry and public utilities, rather than food and medicine.
According to U.N. diplomats, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
complained in a recent letter to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
about U.S. holds on such contracts. Even Britain, Washington's closest ally
on the Security Council, has called for a more flexible approach.

U.S. officials say that in many cases, contracts are blocked simply because
the Iraqis and their suppliers have failed to provide adequate information,
and are quickly lifted once the information is supplied. They note,
however, that in the absence of U.N. weapons inspectors, who departed
Baghdad in December 1998, there is no way to be sure that Iraqi officials
will not put some industrial imports to nefarious use.

A larger question concerns the impact of the sanctions. Even now, said the
senior official, "the situation of your average Iraqi isn't worse than your
average Yemeni, who is not under sanctions . . . It's not my job to turn
Iraq into Abu Dhabi."

 2000 The Washington Post Company

Tough on Iraq

Monday, February 28, 2000; Page A14 

                  I respectfully disagree with the headlines on a Feb. 25
front-page story:
                  "U.S. Looks at Easing Sanctions on Iraq" and inside, "U.S.
Studies Easing
                  Curbs on Trade With Iraq."

                  In December the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution
1284. A full 17
                  paragraphs in that document relate to improvement of the
                  programs run by the United Nations in Iraq--the
"oil-for-food" program.
                  Saddam Hussein is far from complying with international
obligations, and
                  thus sanctions will continue, a judgment endorsed by the
Security Council
                  when it passed the resolution. 

                  It is right and responsible to ease the plight of the
people of Iraq while
                  using sanctions to deny money, weapons and dual-use
technology to the
                  regime in Baghdad. 

                  This is precisely what we are doing. This is smart policy,
not easing
                  sanctions. The United States is, and will remain, second
to none in
                  enforcing sanctions and exercising vigilance over the
oil-for-food program. 

                  JAMES P. RUBIN

                  Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

                  U.S. Department of State


                            Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

Francesca Fornari
Legislative Intern
Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second St., NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 547-6000 ext.121
fax: 202-547-6019

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