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March 23 -24

Section 3

(1) Iraq downplays U.N. plan to increase oil spare-parts allocation
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) March 23.
(2) Aziz slams Albright over Iran-Iraq war remarks
BAGHDAD, March 23 (Reuters)
(3) FAO says 60 percent of Iraqi poultry hit by disease
BAGHDAD, March 23 (Reuters)
(4) Force commander says Iraq smuggling record amounts of oil
(5)U.N. phases out post of special rep. for Iraq. UNITED NATIONS, March 23
(6) Baghdad preparing for parliamentary elections. Iraq, Arabic News,
(7) Mubarak heads to US to press for dismantling of Israeli nuclear arsenal
CAIRO, March 24 (AFP)
(8) Security Council urged to better provide for Iraqis. March 24. (AP)
(9) Iran denounces deadly mortar attack in Iraq. TEHRAN, March 24 (Reuters)
(10) Iraq urges OPEC not to give in to U.S. - paper. BAGHDAD, March 24
(11) Iraq Protests Against US-UK Violations of National Airspace. Baghdad,
March 23, Iraqi News Agency
:03/23/2000 10:20:00 ET
Iraq downplays U.N. plan to increase oil spare-parts allocation

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq's Oil Ministry on Thursday criticized a U.S.
agreement allowing Iraq to receive more spare parts for its petroleum
industry, saying the measure didn't go far enough.

Facing criticism for delaying U.N. humanitarian aid to Iraq, U.S. officials
said Wednesday that Washington would sponsor a U.N. Security Council
resolution that would double the allocation of spare parts that the country
is allowed to buy under the oil-for-food program.

"This allowance is not enough," an Oil Ministry official said of the plan to
double the spare-parts allocation to $600 million every six months, under
sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had warned last week that Iraq's oil
industry would continue to deteriorate unless it receives more replacement

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Iraqi official said the increased
allocation had to be accompanied by a faster approval of contracts otherwise
"will still be having the same problem."

Iraq has long complained that U.S. and British representatives on the U.N.
Sanctions Committee put most of its contracts on hold. The western allies
say they are concerned that certain imports could be diverted to military

A U.N. report released in Baghdad Thursday said Iraq has submitted 2,234
contracts for spare parts for approval. Of these, 1,212 contracts have been
approved and the rest are either on hold or being processed.
Iraq uses its oil exports mainly to fund the purchase of food, medicine and
other essential goods for its 22 million people.

The country has earned $4.2 billion from oil during the past four months,
putting it on track _ if oil prices hold _ to earn a record $6 billion for
the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food program, according to U.N.
figures released Thursday.

The strong earnings are due to the increased price of oil, which has reached
nine-year highs on the world market in recent weeks. The current earnings
cycle started on Nov. 20 and is scheduled to end May 24.

Previously Iraq was allowed to export only $5.2 billion worth of oil every
six months. But the U.N. Security Council lifted the cap in December.
:03/23/2000 07:37:00 ET
Aziz slams Albright over Iran-Iraq war remarks

BAGHDAD, March 23 (Reuters) - Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz on
Thursday accused U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright of lying when
she said Washington had supported Iraq in its 1980-88 war with Iran.

"This lady is accustomed to telling lies ... She is specialised at
distorting facts and telling lies," Aziz told reporters after attending a
rally held in Baghdad to mark the first anniversary of NATO air war against

Albright, in a speech in Prague last week, indicated U.S. regret at its
support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, saying that "aspects of U.S. policy
towards Iraq during its conflict with Iran appear now to have been
regrettably shortsighted..."

Aziz said: "Does she forget Irangate and the weapons that America and Israel
supplied Iran with during the war?
"We used to have normal diplomatic and trade ties with America but it was
planning covertly to prolong the (Iraq-Iran) war. The Iranians should not be
deceived by such lies."

Iran and Iraq remain at loggerheads over several issues from their ruinous
war, such as the repatriation of prisoners.
Iran regularly criticises Iraq for harbouring the main Iranian opposition
group, Mujahideen Khalq, while Baghdad accuses Tehran of backing its Shi'ite
Moslem dissidents.

Tension between the two neighbours has escalated in recent weeks over
cross-border attacks by the Iraq-based Mujahideen.
Iraq blamed Iran on Wednesday for a mortar attack in a residential district
of Baghdad in which six people died.
03/23/2000 07:11:00 ET
FAO says 60 percent of Iraqi poultry hit by disease

BAGHDAD, March 23 (Reuters) - A U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation
report said that 60 percent of Iraq's chicken farms were affected by
diseases such as Marek and Newcastle.

The report obtained by Reuters on Thursday said 10 out of 12 farms were
diseased according to an assessment mission of experts from the FAO and U.N.
coordination office in Baghdad who made field visits between February 21 to
23 this year.

It said in Baghdad alone some eight million broiler (chicks for meat) and
layer (chicks for eggs) chicks were threatened.

The U.N. Security Council's sanctions committee, after numerous pleas from
Iraq and the FAO report, allowed Baghdad to buy 12 million vaccines to
combat poultry diseases. But the contract was put on hold for nearly eight
months, a time span enough to develop these diseases.

"If these vaccines were here by September or October last year it could have
saved the poultry industry a lot but many farms have already been affected,"
the FAO report said.

According to U.N. officials the contract was put on hold because the
committee was asking for more specifications to make sure the vaccines would
not be used for military purposes.

According to an FAO survey conducted in 1998 only 527 farms out 8,500 are
operational at present. The industry which, before 1991, used to produce 85
eggs and 12.5 kg (27.5 lb) of broiler meat per person a year now delivers
only 10 eggs and 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) of meat.

The report noted that since the implementation of the oil- for-food deal
with the United Nations some improvement has been made in the poultry
industry. Egg production by farms assisted by the deal reached 188 million
eggs in 1999. But the report said production is nothing compared to Iraq's
estimated need of around 1.7 billion eggs a year, under 1990 figures.

Meat production also increased to about 1,000 tonnes a month, it said. But
this is also very little compared to Iraq's estimated annual consumption put
around 260,000 tonnes of poultry meat, again according to 1990 figures.
Since the beginning of the oil pact in December 1996 Iraq has allocated $96
million worth of equipment and vaccines to improve poultry. Some $76 million
worth of contracts have been approved so far by the sanctions committee, the
FAO report said.

The oil deal allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil to buy food,
medicine and other humanitarian needs for the Iraqi population.

:03/23/2000 21:14:00 ET
Force commander says Iraq smuggling record amounts of oil

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Iraq is smuggling record amounts of oil, taking
advantage of high oil prices to pay off Iran and use its coastal waters to
avoid detection by the multinational force patrolling the Gulf, the force
commander said Thursday.

Vice-Adm. Charles Moore, commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, told the
U.N. Sanctions Committee that the Iraqi regime was on track to earn between
$500 million and $1 billion this year if Iran doesn't clamp down on the
illicit trade, according to Western diplomats who briefed reporters on
Moore's presentation.

Moore estimated that Baghdad could smuggle 4.8 million metric tons of oil in
2000 _ more than the last four years combined, the diplomats said, speaking
on condition of anonymity.

The profits are separate from the more than $5 billion Iraq is expected to
earn this year through legitimate, U.N.-monitored oil sales, which can only
be used to buy humanitarian goods and spare parts for its oil industry.
Iraq has been barred from selling its oil on the open market since U.N.
sanctions were imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the
Gulf War.

Baghdad has been allowed to sell limited amounts of oil since 1996 through
the U.N. oil-for-food program, but has also continued to smuggle refined oil
out of its Basra and Abu Flus ports.

A Multinational Interception Force has been patrolling the Gulf since 1990
to make sure tankers don't violate the sanctions, but its ships and aircraft
can only patrol international waters in the center of the Gulf.

While countries bordering the Gulf have largely cooperated, local Iranian
authorities have recently resumed allowing tankers carrying Iraqi oil to use
their coastal waters to avoid interception, the diplomats said, quoting

The increase began in September and record levels of smuggling were reported
in December, January and February, a diplomat said, speaking on condition of

Rising oil prices have made the trade worthwhile, since smugglers can offset
the steep prices charged by agents at Iranian checkpoints _ $50 per metric
ton _ to hide in Iranian waters and issue phony documents saying the oil is
Iranian, the diplomats said.

"The information is pointing very strongly in the direction of Iran and to
the ships that come out of the Iraqi-Iranian waters," said Dutch Ambassador
Peter van Walsum, who chairs the sanctions committee.

Van Walsum said the committee had yet to decide how to approach the Iranian
authorities to crack down on the scheme.

The increase in smuggling was highlighted last month when the multinational
force intercepted a Russian tanker that was carrying 4,000 tons of oil.
Russia had claimed the oil was Iranian but tests conducted by U.S. labs
showed it was Iraqi.

03/23/2000 18:23:00 ET
U.N. phases out post of special rep. for Iraq

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 (Reuters) - Indian diplomat Prakash Shah, named a
U.N. trouble-shooter in Baghdad in March 1998 and placed on a part-time
basis last August, is being phased out of the post entirely, a U.N.
spokesman said on Thursday.

Shah was originally appointed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special
representative for Iraq to smooth out often bumpy relations between the
United Nations and Baghdad, particularly in connection with U.N. inspections
aimed at scrapping Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Last August his status was changed from that of a full-time U.N. employee
based in Baghdad to employment on an "as needed" basis, returning to Iraq
only when required.

This was largely because he had little to do. U.N. weapons inspectors have
not been allowed back in Iraq since being withdrawn in mid-December 1998,
shortly before U.S. and British planes attacked Iraqi targets in response to
Baghdad's failure to cooperate with U.N. arms teams.
The United Nations denied at the time that Shah's change of status was
connected with U.S. criticism of some of his actions.

On Thursday a U.N. spokesman said that, "in light of the Security Council's
new plan for inspection and monitoring in Iraq, the secretary-general
considers that a special representative is not required at this time."
Under a council resolution adopted last December, a new body called the U.N.
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) has been set up
to complete the destruction of Iraqi weapons banned under Gulf War

UNMOVIC, which replaces the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) that clashed
frequently with Iraqi officials, is still being organised. But Iraq has
given no indication that it will allow UNMOVIC inspectors into the country.
Shah, who was India's ambassador to the United Nations from 1995 to 1997,
has also been ambassador to Japan.

Baghdad preparing for parliamentary elections
Iraq, Politics, 3/23/2000
Iraq is getting ready for the legislative elections that will be held on
March 27 in which 522 candidates are competing to occupy 220 seats for
four-year terms.

Candidates for the Baath Party are running under the slogan "Elect
candidates of the party," while the independent candidates' slogan is "Elect
your candidate."

The candidates are reviewing their national contributions to Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein's "Kadisia" and the "Mother of Battles" to defend and serve
Iraq, while Iraqi television displays bits of information about the
candidates' lives and photos from the symposiums in which they have

The number of the candidates to occupy the seats of the Nations Council
(parliament) in its fifth session reached 522, including 25 women.


Friday, March 24 11:18 AM SGT
Mubarak heads to US to press for dismantling of Israeli nuclear arsenal
CAIRO, March 24 (AFP) -
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak heads to Washington on Friday hoping to
squeeze Israel to abandon its nuclear programme as the Middle East peace
process shows new signs of life.
Egyptian officials have recently stepped up calls for disarmament, arguing
that an Israeli nuclear arsenal will be of no use in the approaching era of
peace, as the Palestinian peace track enters its final phase and Israel
prepares to withdraw from south Lebanon.
Foreign Minister Amr Mussa said earlier this month that nuclear armament in
the region would figure on the agenda of Mubarak's talks with US President
Bill Clinton on March 28.
The Egyptian leader will also visit the Pentagon for a meeting with Defense
Secretary William Cohen where he will argue the need for "a balance of
forces in the region to increase stability," according to Makram Mohammed
Ahmed, editor-in-chief of Al-Musawwar magazine, alluding to Israel's
military might.
Ahmed, who is close to Mubarak, said in Thursday's edition of the magazine
that the president will underline "the benefits to regional security of
modernising Egypt's defences and developing its armed forces."
Egypt, which receives more than two billion dollars in US aid a year, has
been campaigning since 1995 to pressure Israel to sign the international
nuclear non-proliferation treaty, highlighting the fact that Israel is the
only country in the region not to have signed.
Israel is the only country that receives more US aid than Egypt.
"The heart of the problem is that there are nuclear arms in the region which
threaten its security," the Egyptian foreign minister told reporters on
March 15.
All the Arab states as well as Iran have signed the non-proliferation treaty
while western experts estimate Israel possesses as many as 200 nuclear
warheads, although the Jewish state has never admitted it.
"Commitment to non-proliferation of nuclear arms should be applied to all
countries in the region without exception because any exception will provoke
negative reactions," Mussa said.
Mubarak's chief advisor Ossama al-Baz also recently voiced Egypt's
opposition to Israel's ageing nuclear reactor in Dimona, warning that it
presents a serious risk of pollution and should be dismantled.
"It is in Israel's interest -- as it is in the interest of Egypt and other
countries of the region -- to dismantle this reactor and start on serious
talks with us to get rid of its nuclear programme," Baz said.
The Middle East peace negotiations will also be on the agenda of the
Mubarak-Clinton summit as Egypt looks to bolster its role as an intermediary
and facilitator between the different players.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat flew to Egypt Wednesday evening for talks
with Mubarak on the latest developments on the peace process just two weeks
after a three-way summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Mubarak
in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
A top official at Egypt's foreign ministry told AFP the summit helped to
present Egypt as an unbiased partner in the peace process after a solidarity
visit by Mubarak to Lebanon last month following Israeli air strikes on
Lebanese civilian infrastructure.
"Even if Mubarak's visit to Lebanon was perceived by Washington as
supporting (Lebanese guerrilla group) Hezbollah, it was balanced out by
Egypt's welcome to Israeli Premier Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat in Sharm el-Sheikh," he said, asking not to be named.
The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah spearheads efforts to end Israel's 22-year
occupation of a strip of southern Lebanon.


:03/24/2000 11:24:00 ET
Council urged to better provide for Iraqis

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Bracing for criticism about it's hard-line position on
Iraq sanctions, the United States announced today it was releasing $100
million worth of contracts for goods Baghdad can buy through the U.N.
humanitarian program.

The United States also was formally introducing a resolution doubling the
amount of oil spare parts Iraq can purchase _ but made clear it would still
check each contract to make sure it isn't used for military purposes.
The measures were announced to coincide with an open meeting today of the
Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The United States
expected to be criticized, at least indirectly, for its hard-line policy.

In his opening remarks, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the suffering of
the Iraqi people posed "a serious moral dilemma for the organization."
"The United Nations has always been on the side of the vulnerable and the
weak, and has always sought to relieve suffering, yet here we are accused of
causing suffering to an entire population," Annan told the council.
"We are in danger of losing the argument, or the propaganda war _ if we
haven't already lost it _ about who is responsible for the situation _
President Saddam Hussein or the United Nations."

Iraq has been barred from selling oil on the open market since sweeping
sanctions were imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The U.N.
oil-for-food program was launched in 1996 to provide for Iraqis suffering
under the measures.

While more than $6 billion worth of goods have arrived in Iraq since the
program began, the United States has held up over $1 billion in contracts
for equipment to rebuild Iraq's aging electricity, oil and water industries.
Washington says it wants to make sure the equipment isn't used to help
Saddam rebuild his weapons of mass destruction.

Dutch Ambassador Peter van Walsum applauded the U.S. vigilance in screening
the contracts, but said the number of contracts on hold was "intolerably

A U.S. official told reporters today that Washington planned to release 70
contracts, worth $100 million, that it has placed on hold through the U.N.
sanctions committee. The contracts were for vehicles and batteries.
The official also outlined the rest of the 1,000 contracts Washington has
held up, saying some were held in limbo because the contracts were

Others were delayed because the United States didn't have the manpower to
review them, and still others were denied because they were for equipment to
rehabilitate suspected smuggling facilities, the official said, speaking on
condition he not be identified.

The United States also was sponsoring a draft resolution authorizing Iraq to
double the amount of money it can spend on spare parts to repair its oil
infrastructure _ from $300 million every six months to $600 million.
Annan recommended the increase last year, but the United States only agreed
to it after an independent group of experts visited Iraq in January to
determine the needs of the oil sector.
In a report this week, the experts warned that Iraq's oil production could
fall as much as 15 percent annually unless spare parts and equipment arrive

In his comments to the council, Annan said he welcomed the decision to
increase the spare parts allocation, but he also pointed out that the number
of contracts on hold "do have direct negative impact on the humanitarian
program, and on efforts to rehabilitate Iraq's infrastructure, most of which
is in appalling disrepair."

03/24/2000 05:53:00 ET
Iran denounces deadly mortar attack in Iraq

TEHRAN, March 24 (Reuters) - Iran has condemned a deadly mortar attack in
Iraq earlier this week, denying Iraqi charges that it was behind the blast,
state television said on Friday.
"These attacks emanate from Iraq's internal problems and have nothing to do
with Iran," Iranian television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza
Asefi as saying.
The television said Asefi had "denounced" Tuesday's attack on a building
housing Palestinians in Baghdad which left six people dead and 38 others
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Asefi as accusing "certain news
media" of "fanning problems between Iran and Iraq."
"Iraqi officials should be mindful of enemy propaganda to sow discord," he
Iraq, which fought a war with Iran from 1980 to 1988, has blamed the attack
on Iranian agents and reserved the right to respond.
Tension between the two neighbours has escalated in recent weeks over
cross-border attacks by the Iraq-based Mujahideen Khalq, the main armed
Iranian opposition group.
The Mujahideen have also claimed responsibility for two recent mortar
attacks on Tehran which left one civilian dead and many others injured.
Baghdad said last week that its air defences had shot down an Iranian
reconnaissance drone. The next day, Iran said the Mujahideen had killed two
of its soldiers near the border.
The Mujahideen said their anti-aircraft systems had last week repulsed an
air attack by Iran against one of their military bases inside Iraq.
:03/24/2000 04:56:00 ET
Iraq urges OPEC not to give in to U.S. - paper

BAGHDAD, March 24 (Reuters) - An authoritative Iraqi newspaper, which
usually speaks for the government, urged OPEC on Friday not to yield to U.S.
pressure to hike oil output.
OPEC Ministers are gathering in Vienna for a crucial meeting of the cartel
opening formally on Monday to decide policy after current production curbs
of 4.3 million barrels per day (bpd), which trippled oil prices, expire at
the end of March.
"OPEC states are needed not to yield to (the U.S.) logic and maintaining oil
market stability should not be looked at from an American angle only,"
Al-Thawra, mouthpiece of the ruling Baath party, said in an editorial.
The U.S., the world's biggest consumer of oil products, has been piling
pressure on OPEC ministers to release more crude into the market to lower
oil prices, which have translated into sky high pump prices as the summer
driving season approaches.
U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has met several leading OPEC oil
ministers ahead of the Vienna meeting and expressed the hope that the cartel
will decide to raise output.
But the Thawra newspaper said: "It's high time that OPEC should regain its
oil prestige, power and dominance on the oil which absolutely belongs to its
"OPEC is needed to show more cohesion rather than being marginalized under
the yoke of the American threat," Thawra said.
The head of the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration says
OPEC needs to add three million bpd of oil to the world market on top of an
official limit of 23 million bpd, excluding sanctions-bound Iraq.

Iraq Protests Against US-UK Violations of National Airspace
Baghdad, March 23, INA (19:00)
Iraq has protested with the Arab League against the daily U.S-U.K violations
of its national airspace from bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

In a letter to the Arab League Secretary-General, Foreign Minister Mohammed
Sa'eed as-Sahaf said over the period between February 28-March 5, 2000, the
U.S and U.K warplanes had carried out 163 sorties over Iraq, of which 91
>from Saudi Arabia and 72 from Kuwait. He added that Iraqi anti-aircraft
defences fire had forced these planes out of national airspace.

Sahaf warned that this U.S-U.K aggression had turned into a constant policy
being pursued by the United States and Britain since 1992 up to now with the
end of undermining Iraq's sovereignty, independence and territorial
integrity and causing systematic destruction to its people, infrastructure
and civilian installations.

Minister Sahaf emphasized Iraq's categorical rejection of the so-called
no-fly zones imposed by the United States and Britain in a unilateral
decision with no legal or legitimate grounds.
He said the logistic support provided by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the U.S
and U.K had made them key partners in the aggression on Iraq, holding them
internationally responsible for these hostile acts.

The Foreign Minister called on the Arab League Secretary-General to
intervene with the governments of these states to stop such provocations. He
urged the Arab League to condemn the aggression in line with the principles
of its charter and with the Joint Arab Defence Agreement, reaffirming Iraq's
full right under international law to defend itself, sovereignty and
security and to demand compensations for all the human, material and moral
damage caused by these atrocities, in conformity with the rules of
international liability.

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