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The famous parliamentary answer and a BBC interview with Wilson about it. Ministerial sources quoted in the Independent newspaper claimed that this parliamentary answer signalled a 'significant shift' in UK policy 'in response to Labour MPs' concern over the impact of sanctions on Iraqis.' (20 Feb., p. 1) 1) Written parliamentary answer given on 15 February 2001 by Brian Wilson column 260 running on to 261 http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200001/cmhansrd/cm010 215/text/10215w18.htm#10215w18.html_sbhd3 Iraq Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will make representations to the UN Sanctions Committee for the early release of (a) food-testing equipment and (b) equipment to combat cancer, which is being held from entry into Iraq.  Mr. Wilson: The UK works consistently in the UN Sanctions Committee to facilitate the export to Iraq of humanitarian goods such as those described by the hon. Member. We will continue to do so. If the hon. Member, or any other hon. Member, is aware of any specific examples of such goods on hold by any member of the Sanctions Committee, we are prepared to look into the matter and, where appropriate, make representations bilaterally and in the Sanctions Committee. The UK only place holds on goods where there is insufficient information about the goods or their intended end-use or because the goods have military as well as civilian applications. The hold is lifted as soon as we receive the information required to reassure us that the goods will not be used for purposes prohibited by Security Council resolutions. 15 Feb 2001 : Column: 261W I am anxious further to refine this process in any way which is consistent with UN Security Council resolutions and also the humanitarian interests of the Iraqi people. Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will provide details of the current contracts on hold in respect of permitted supplies to Iraq; and for what reason 26 per cent. of goods under agreed oil spares contracts to Iraq have so far been received.  Mr. Wilson: The UN Sanctions Committee has approved 82 per cent. of the contracts submitted for the export of goods to Iraq under the UN oil for food programme. The UK puts on hold only about 2 per cent. of all contracts submitted to it for approval and then usually only on a temporary basis until concerns about the nature or end-use of the goods have been met. Details of all oil for food contracts are available on the UN website at www.un.org/Depts/oip. The UN continues to streamline its procedures to accelerate the export of goods to Iraq. The Sanctions Committee has therefore agreed lists of items, including oil spare parts, which no longer need to be referred to the UN for approval. At the same time Iraq continues to hamper the UN's efforts. Delays in the issue of letters of credit by the Central Bank of Iraq, for example, have prevented the delivery at one time of up to $1.1 billion worth of goods already approved by the UN. 2) EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF AN INTERVIEW GIVEN BY FCO MINISTER OF STATE, BRITAIN WILSON, FOR BBC RADIO, WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2001 >From the FCO Website http://www.fco.gov.uk/news/newstext.asp?4718 QUESTION: Let me ask you about sanctions on Iraq. There was a suggestion just before the air strikes happened that you were thinking of relaxing them, or bringing in so-called 'smart sanctions'. BRIAN WILSON: What I said, and what I am very happy to repeat, is that if anyone can produce evidence that the sanctions result in, for instance, cancer treatment equipment, food-processing equipment, anything like that, is being held up, then of course we will do something about it. What I said in answer to a Parliamentary Question (on Thursday 15 February), and I say again: if we can be more flexible and at the same time act compatibly with the United Nations Security Council resolutions - which are intended to prevent Saddam Hussein rearming and becoming a threat to the region again - and also humanitarian concerns, then of course we will do it. That is a statement of common sense and, I think, of common humanity. QUESTION: Your Parliamentary Answer came just hours before the air strike on Iraq, so it looks as though there's the Foreign Office having this longer view on sanctions and suddenly the Defence Secretary is called in to take part in these air strikes. BRIAN WILSON: No, that's completely wrong, with respect. The answer could have come hours before, hours after. The two things are entirely compatible. QUESTION: Did you know they were going to happen - the air strikes - when you wrote the Parliamentary Answer? BRIAN WILSON: I came into this job just under three weeks ago. Literally the first meetings I was involved in were about the increased threats to our air crews over the southern no-fly zone, and the measures which were being discussed in order to meet them. And that then flowed through to the action that was taken last Friday. So, all of this - the attempt to drive wedges, the attempt to suggest people didn't know this, didn't know that, or of this lack of cohesion - is just untrue. QUESTION: But why put down the Parliamentary Answer suggesting a long-range look at sanctions when the Ministry of Defence is planning the air strikes? BRIAN WILSON: The two strands of policy are not only compatible, they are essential. On the one hand, what we are saying with absolute resolution is that - in the interests of the peace and security of Saddam Hussein's own people, of the region and of the wider world - he is not going to be allowed to rearm, he is not going to be allowed to do what he was doing 10 years ago, which was bombing the Kurds with chemical weapons, attacking Kuwait and so on. But on the other hand, it must be true in substance and also in perception, that the measures we are taking are not directed at, are not hurting, the ordinary Iraqi people. QUESTION: It seems as if there are two different approaches here? BRIAN WILSON: No, not at all, not at all. One enhances the other. What Saddam Hussein tries to do is to bundle them both together, and to say that if you're stopping him manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, if you're preventing him from attacking the Kurds and the Shias with chemical weapons, then somehow, intrinsically, inevitably you are also responsible for the humanitarian damage to his own people. Now that is grossly untrue and it has to be seen to be grossly untrue, and we have to separate these two strands much more clearly. Milan Rai Joint Coordinator Voices in the Wilderness UK National Office 16B Cherwell St, Oxford OX4 1BG Personal contact details 29 Gensing Road, St Leonards-on-sea TN38 0HE ph 0845 458 9571 (local rate) pager 07623 746 462 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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