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Dear Friends, In his article in yesterday's Guardian (6th January) Peter Hain wrote that "Iraq has ordered no medicine under the UN oil-for-food programme for the last six months." Logging onto the oil-for-food web-site (www.un.org/Depts/oip) one discovers that Iraq has entered into contracts (for the last sic-month phase : Phase VIII) for 'medicine' from Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Ireland, Finland, Saudi Arabia, India and the UAE. Hain also wrote that "to export ... medicine to Iraq you need simply notify the UN." Returning to the UN web-site we find that the contract for 'medicine' from France was actually 'on hold' in the Sanctions Committee ! In these two assertions Hain is apparently playing on the following two facts (I haven't been able to track down the source for his claim about the medicines) : A. That there have been substantial delays in the submission of applications through the programme. In a statement to the Security Council on the 4th December the programme's Executive Director, Benon Sevan, explained that "with only five days left before the end of the current phase, we had received only 865 applications, valued at $2.926 billion and comprising only 39.7 per cent of the phase VIII distribution plan budget." He went on to state that : "Anyone with experience in negotiating contracts knows well, however, how time consuming such negotiation is, particularly when the number of contracts is so high - many highly complex and of very high value - as is the case for contracts funded under the oil-for-food programme. We need to bear this in mind. However, I say this not as an excuse for some of the inordinate delays experienced in the submission of applications." B. That there are now Green Lists of items in various sectors which do not require the approval of the Sanctions Committee and merely have to be notified. Whilst it's true that a large number of contracts have been fast-tracked in this manner : (a) these provsision apparently only apply to goods purchased through oil-for-food programme and (b) only items on the lists (which are highly specific) are exempt from the requirement for Sanctions Committee approval. Having said this, I'm not aware of any solid evidence that such holds as do exist in the food and medical sector constitute a major problem at present. For the other sectors things are very different (see voices 'Strangle Hold' briefing for some documentation and background.) Most of the rest of Hain's piece consists of the usual melange of lies and half-truths. The FCO's current figure for monies "available for the purchase of humanitarian goods" through oil-for-food "this year" seems to be $17 bn. I've no idea how they arrive at this figure. The current oil price for Iraqi crude is around $18 / barrel. If we bound Iraq's current oil exports at 3 million barrels a day (an overestimate) we arrive at a yearly gross figure of $19.71 bn. Subtracting the 28% deductions leaves $14.2 bn for "humanitarian goods" north, south and center. Similarly I've no idea where they get the $1.1 bn figure for "goods" that "Iraq had ... placed on hold at the end of October." Clearly Iraq doesn't put *any* goods 'on hold', though there have been a substantial volume of contracts "incomplete or non-compliant with either the approved distribution plans or the procedures of the Committee ... awaiting processing by the Secretariat, pending submission of the required information, corrections or amendments, mainly by the suppliers and, frequently, by the Government of Iraq." (UN Secretary-General report, 29 November 2000). Hope some of this info. is useful ... Best wishes, Gabriel voices in the wilderness uk -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk