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Congressional Letter on Iraq - from Rep. Jim McDermott

October 6, 2000
The Honorable C. David Welch
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Assistant Secretary Welch,

I am writing to express my grave concern over current 
U.S.-Iraq policy. In particular, my concern over the great 
number of contract "holds" currently in place at the UN 
Sanctions Committee. I realize that we may disagree on the 
sensibility of sanctions policy in general, but I am sure we 
can agree on the tragic scope of Iraq's ongoing humanitarian 
crisis and the necessity of doing what we can to help alleviate 
this crisis.

In May, after returning from Iraq, my colleague Representative 
Tony Hall wrote a letter to Secretary Albright advising several 
policy changes in the operation of the Sanctions Committee. I 
know that other members of Congress have also asked Secretary 
Albright to advocate for a cash component to the Oil-for-Food 
program as well as to address problems with water and sanitation 
in Iraq, and to institute a line-item veto in contract review.

While I realize that there has been some improvements in this 
process over the last several months, I feel that they have been 
insufficient. After reviewing the record of the Sanctions 
Committee, I am appalled to note that as of May 31, 2000 (the 
most recent data available) over 1,000 contract requests remain 
on hold, totaling $1,640,000,000 worth of supplies. Furthermore, 
of the contracts already approved, only 49% have actually arrived 
in Iraq. In the critically important water and sanitation sector, only 
16% of those contracts already approved have actually arrived. 
This is fundamentally unacceptable.

To help me further understand this process I would greatly 
appreciate it if your office could provide me with a list of current 
contracts on hold. Additionally, it would be very helpful if you could 
provide which items within the contracts that are prompting the holds, 
the reasons for why these items are of concern, and your estimation 
of when these holds will be resolved.

I greatly appreciate your help in these matters, and look forward to 
hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me or my staff if you 
have any questions or concerns. I am very interested in this issue, 
and would greatly appreciate continued information.

Jim McDermott
Member of Congress

Cc: Samuel R. Berger
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
National Security Council
Old Executive Building
Washington, DC 20503

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
799 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017-3505

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