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Here's a collection of pieces on the new British proposal 1. UN set to consider easing Iraqi sanctions, FT (email@example.com ) 2. Allies Work to Modify U.N.'s Iraqi Sanctions, Washington Post (firstname.lastname@example.org) 3. U.S.-British Plan Seeks to Restore Trade With Iraq, New York Times (email@example.com, all letters should be exclusive to the NYT and not more than 150 words) 4. Brits Seek to Ease Iraq Sanctions, AP 5. How smart are smart sanctions?, BBC (unfortunately doesn't actually attempt to answer the question). 6. Britain Wants to End Bans on Iraqi Civilian Goods, Reuters 7. Britain and US plan looser trade sanctions on Saddam, The Independent (firstname.lastname@example.org ) 8. Sanctions eased on Iraq, The Times (email@example.com, all letters must be exclusive to The Times) 9. Britain and US aim to 'refocus' Iraqi embargo, Daily Telegraph (firstname.lastname@example.org ) 10. Britain and US urge end to Iraq sanctions, Guardian (email@example.com ) Followed by a letter of my own to the FT and a useful analysis of these much-anticipated proposals that appeared in voices' March newsletter. It looks like there'll be another press flurry next week when, with any luck, we'll know more details. Here are a few highlights of the current coverage: The British proposal is 'aimed at shifting the blame for the suffering of the Iraqis' (FT) with US and British officials British and American officials 'hop[ing to], kill off the widespread perception that sanctions cause great suffering for ordinary Iraqi people' (BBC). 'If our proposals are adopted by the Security Council Iraq will have no excuse for the suffering of the Iraqi people' (anonymous British official, New York Times). The 'main aim' of the proposal is to 'reduce the number of holds', the UN escrow account will be maintained and 'foreign investment and credits would continue to be prohibited' (FT). According to the New York Times 'the plan would require Iraq to let international arms inspections resume before any sanctions could be lifted' but it's unclear whether relaxing the controls on civilian imports is included here (none of the other reports indicate this, so my guess would be that they are not so covered). The US 'has sought to reach agreement on the contours of a new sanctions policy before June 4, when the United Nations is scheduled to decide whether to renew the oil-for-food programme' and 'US and European officials ... expect negotiations among council members about whether to allow the resumption of international investment in Iraq's oil industry' (Washington Post). The US wants the UN to be able to 'compensate countries neighbouring Iraq with money from the escrow account if Baghdad retaliate[s] against them for co-operating with [planned] import restrictions' aimed at reducing oil smuggling (Washington Post) - a proposal which Iraq is very unlikely to take kindly to. Gabriel voices uk *************************************** UN set to consider easing Iraqi sanctions By Roula Khalaf in London and Carola Hoyos in New York Published: May 16 2001 19:36GMT | Last Updated: May 17 2001 03:12GMT Britain is to introduce a United Nations security council resolution on Iraq based on new "smart" US sanctions and aimed at shifting the blame for the suffering of Iraqis on to the regime of Saddam Hussein. The initiative, expected next week, follows Washington's unveiling of new ideas to the five permanent members of the security council. If a consensus can be reached on amendments to the 10-year-old sanctions, the new system would go into effect on June 4 after a vote expected at the end of this month. The US plan calls for improvements in the oil-for-food programme, which allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil to buy humanitarian goods. Civilian goods would be allowed into Iraq without prior UN approval while military-related items would be put on a controlled list and denied access. But the composition of the list will be a contentious point in discussions between security council members. According to UN diplomats, the US wants it to include chemicals necessary for water sanitation and computing and telecommunications equipment. "The essence is now that nothing is allowed in except that which is approved. We are going to change it to everything is allowed in except that which is stopped," a British official said. The new sanctions regime would maintain strong controls over the Iraqi government. Iraq's oil exports would still be deposited into a UN escrow account, denying Mr Saddam access to his funds. Foreign investment and credits would continue to be prohibited. To win a full suspension of sanctions, Iraq would have to comply with UN disarmament requirements. The US plan, now backed by the UK, is likely to face resistance from Russia and China, which have lobbied for a total lifting of the embargo. France, also sympathetic to Iraq, has indicated that the US ideas were a step in the right direction, but it is studying the details. The US, and to a lesser extent the UK, have delayed 17.8 per cent of the contracts submitted to the UN by putting as many as 1,690 "on hold" on the grounds that they can be used for military as well as civilian purposes. The main aim of the resolution would be to reduce the number of holds, though UN diplomats remain sceptical that the amended rules would bring a substantial change. The proposed US sanctions regime calls for more vigorous customs inspection in states bordering Iraq to ensure that military-related items are kept out. It would also seek to bring current smuggling under the control of the UN, including a pipeline carrying oil illegally to Syria. A legal framework, meanwhile, would be set up for the resumption of civilian flights to Baghdad. It remains unclear, however, how much co-operation can be expected from frontline states. Earlier this week Iraq threatened to cut oil exports to Jordan and Turkey if they went along with the US plan. ****************************************************** Allies Work to Modify U.N.'s Iraqi Sanctions U.S., Britain Want to Ease Pressure on Civilians By Colum Lynch and Alan Sipress Washington Post Staff Writers Thursday, May 17, 2001; Page A17 UNITED NATIONS, May 16 – The United States and Britain will launch a diplomatic campaign next week to overhaul the 11-year-old sanctions on Iraq, marking the first substantial step by the Bush administration to carry out a new policy for confronting Baghdad. British officials, working with their American counterparts, said today they were preparing to offer, as early as Monday, a draft Security Council resolution that would eliminate most restrictions on Iraq's civilian imports while tightening controls on military goods and oil revenue. "This is a very big shift. We are effectively ending sanctions on ordinary civilian imports and replacing it with a very tightly focused control regime," a British diplomat told reporters. "If our proposals are adopted by the Security Council, Iraq will have no excuse for the suffering of the Iraqi people." In recent months, U.S. envoys have been meeting in Europe with British, French and Russian officials to lay the groundwork for the resolution. The Bush administration has sought to reach agreement on the contours of a new sanctions policy before June 4, when the United Nations is scheduled to decide whether to renew the oil-for-food sanctions program. "We have been working on this for a long time," said James B. Cunningham, the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "We hope to adopt the resolution by the end of the month." While pushing for "smart sanctions" that could win renewed international support, the Bush administration also has been reviewing other elements of its Iraq policy. U.S. officials said they expect to complete an evaluation this month of how best to enforce the two no-fly zones over Iraq and provide support for opposition groups trying to oust President Saddam Hussein. The broad outlines of the sanctions plan have gained a "reasonably positive response" from France, Russia and China, Iraq's traditional advocates on the 15-member Security Council, according to the British official. U.S. and European officials have said France is upbeat about the overall proposal, since it could satisfy a longstanding French demand for the lifting of civilian sanctions, while Russia and China have withheld detailed comments. But U.S. and European officials said they expect intense negotiations among the five permanent Security Council members over the specifics of the new plan, in particular the list of items that would still be barred from Iraq. Under the proposal, Iraq would be free to import any goods not specifically designated for the council's review. Last week, after an internal Bush administration debate among State Department and Pentagon officials over which items could pose a military threat, the United States and Britain agreed on a proposed list and presented it to Russia, China and France. The list would include all military imports and many "dual use" items, such as high-powered computers and advanced telecommunications equipment, that have both civilian and military applications. "There will effectively be no sanctions on all other goods entering Iraq," the British official said. U.S. and European officials said they expect negotiations among council members about whether to allow the resumption of international investment in Iraq's oil industry, a step that could benefit French, Russian and Chinese companies. They also anticipate tough bargaining over whether Iraqi revenue deposited in the U.N. account could be used to pay off Baghdad's debts, a change favored by Russia, which is owed several billion dollars. The draft resolution would maintain the existing escrow account into which Iraqi oil revenue is deposited and then spent on imports that meet Security Council conditions. It would also likely allow the resumption of international commercial flights to Baghdad. The Bush administration plan would authorize Iraq to export oil through Syria under U.N. auspices in an effort to halt the smuggling of more than 100,000 barrels a day outside international control. It would also allow the U.N. to compensate countries neighboring Iraq with money from the escrow account if Baghdad retaliated against them for cooperating with the import restrictions. Iraq has asked Russia to oppose the new resolution and has put its neighbors on notice that it will punish them if they support the plan. Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz warned Jordan and Turkey on Monday that Iraq will cut off trade with them if they cooperate. Alan Sipress reported from Washington. ******************************************************************* May 17, 2001 U.S.-British Plan Seeks to Restore Trade With Iraq By BARBARA CROSSETTE UNITED NATIONS, May 16 — Britain, backed by the United States, will propose next week that the United Nations lift the 11-year ban on international trade with Iraq, British officials said today. The long-awaited British-American proposal, if adopted by the Security Council, would prohibit only the sale of a specific list of arms and weapons-related items to Iraq. But the plan would require Iraq to let international arms inspections resume before any sanctions could be lifted, and it would reject Iraqi demands to return to Baghdad the control over money Iraq earns from oil sales. That money would still be deposited into a United Nations-supervised escrow account, to be drawn on for imports. Iraq has already said it would accept nothing short of an end to the embargo, and it expelled international inspectors in 1998, so it is likely to reject the plan as inadequate. "The measures that we are proposing in effect will mean the end of sanctions on ordinary civilian imports into Iraq," a British official said today. "We are trying to agree on more focused controls on Iraq's weapons and illegal oil exports," he said. Although the new proposals, representing a fundamental shift in the way the United Nations will deal with Iraq, were developed jointly, Bush administration officials appeared reluctant to comment publicly on the plan, leaving the British alone out front today. The administration's approach has many critics in Washington, especially among conservatives who believe Mr. Bush should increase pressure on President Saddam Hussein in the hope of bringing down his regime. But Mr. Bush, in an interview with The New York Times in January, likened the Iraqi sanctions to "Swiss cheese" and went along with a proposal by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to focus on enforcing sanctions on military transfers. "You undercut all sanctions if you try to stop everything," one State Department official said. "It simply doesn't work to try to lock up the country, especially when so many other countries are willing to turn the other way when goods are smuggled across the border. So it's time to try a different approach." The proposal comes several years after deep fissures developed in the Security Council over the usefulness or ethical justification for the sweeping embargo that the Security Council imposed under the last Bush administration and which the Clinton administration demanded it keep in place. In recent years, rising oil prices also gave Mr. Hussein enhanced economic power that helped reduce his diplomatic isolation, as old and new trading partners joined in calls for a lifting of sanctions. A long and difficult council debate is expected. The other permanent members of the council with veto power, China, France and Russia, which have argued for a quicker suspension of sanctions, did not comment on the proposals today. In Washington, Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said that the administration was in "a sort of intermediate stage" of consultations with Security Council members and nations near Iraq. "We don't have a proposal at this point to present." Mr. Boucher did indicate, however, that the administration supported the plan in principle. "The goal of this process is to control effectively Iraq's ability to buy weapons, to control Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbors, especially to control Iraq's ability to threaten its region with weapons of mass destruction," he said. "So, on the one hand, you will have a set of controls that do that. On the other hand, we will smooth out the process and enable civilian goods to reach the Iraqi people." The British official briefing reporters said that the basic plan was ready to be presented to the Security Council as a resolution as early as next week. "We've been consulting other Security Council members and key states in the region, and have proposed some ideas, and so far we are receiving a reasonably positive response," the British official said. Ambassador James Cunningham, the acting American representative on the Council, said today that he hoped to see the resolution adopted by the end of this month, but refused to discuss the proposal in detail. A review and renewal of the existing "oil for food" program in Iraq is due by June 4, and British and American officials would like to replace that with the new plan at that time. There has been a steady erosion of the isolation of Iraq, as neighboring countries and other nations began to increase trade and send flights to Baghdad's newly reopened airport. At the same time, Arab nations and other opponents of sanctions continue to criticize them for causing unacceptable hardship to the Iraqi people. "Under this system, Iraq will be able to meet all of its civilian needs," the British official said. "If our proposals are adopted by the Security Council, Iraq will have no excuse for the suffering of the Iraqi people." The new plan for Iraq marks another stage in a long-running attempt by the Security Council to deal effectively with an Iraqi government noted for its record of trying to create nuclear, chemical and biological weapons before and possibly since its invasion and occupation of neighboring Kuwait in August 1990. After the war to free Kuwait that followed in early 1991, Iraq was told by the Security Council that it would remain under a strict embargo on oil sales and weapons purchases until it had been fully disarmed to the satisfaction of United Nations inspectors. Goods like food and medicine were never included in the embargo. By the end of that year, when much of Iraq's arsenal was being destroyed but it was clear that Mr. Hussein was neither going to cooperate with the inspection system in ferreting out undeclared arms nor use what money he had to alleviate civilian hardships, the Security Council offered Iraq the chance to buy more civilian goods through controlled oil sales. Iraq refused, and it was not until 1996 that a revised oil- for-food program was accepted. That program has been steadily expanded, until Iraq is now free to import a wide range of goods and equipment. But it is still required to present a list of proposed purchases to the United Nations periodically. That rule would now be lifted. Under the new British-American proposal, Iraq is still required to readmit arms inspectors, who have not been allowed to work in the country since 1998, and to be declared free of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons or components as well as missiles with a range of over 150 kilometers. Until then, the sanctions imposed in 1990 and reaffirmed repeatedly since remain in place. The proposal requires that two concrete lists of prohibited weapons and weapons-related goods be drawn up, one for weapons of mass destruction and the other for conventional arms. Such purchases could not be made by Iraq, and questionable contracts could still be referred to the Council's sanctions committee. That panel, the British official said, could deny a sale entirely, exercise a line- item veto or ask that United Nations monitors track the ultimate destination and use of a suspect item in Iraq. In general, the new proposals rely heavily on United Nations monitoring, which could be problematic. Britain and the United States have pressed for more monitors in Iraq, but this has been rejected by some of Iraq's supporters. The Iraqi government could simply bar monitors. The free flow of civilian goods into Iraq would place a heavy responsibility for vigilance on Iraq's neighbors, since arms inspectors of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission are concerned about the possibility of Iraq's hiding material for arms programs in civilian shipments. On a recent visit to the Middle East, General Powell discussed these next steps with countries in the region. Diplomats say that Jordan, Turkey and Syria would have to be reassured that they would not suffer economically if they cooperated with the United Nations. ******************************************************* Thursday May 17 6:03 AM ET Brits Seek to Ease Iraq Sanctions By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) - In a major policy shift expected to get U.S. backing, Britain has proposed lifting U.N. sanctions on civilian goods entering Iraq but toughening enforcement of the decade-old arms embargo against Saddam Hussein's government. The British proposal, which is being incorporated into a Security Council resolution, was developed in consultation with Washington and is part of a broader review of Iraq policy by both countries, a British official said Wednesday. But on Thursday, the Iraqi army newspaper Al-Qaddissiya rejected any U.N. resolution ``America tries to pass under any pretext.'' Full sanctions still can't be lifted until U.N. weapons inspectors certify that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed. For nearly 21/2 years, Baghdad has barred inspectors. But if approved by the powerful Security Council, the British proposal would mark the first significant easing of sanctions that have been in place since the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait in 1990. Britain said it got a positive response from the three other council members with veto power, France, Russia and China, as well as from Iraq's neighbors. The United States and Britain seek to prevent Iraq from reviving its weapons-building programs while ensuring that sanctions don't hurt Iraqi citizens, the British official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that talks were still going on in capitals and at the United Nations. ``The goal of this process is to control effectively Iraq's ability to buy weapons, to control Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbors ... with weapons of mass destruction,'' Boucher said in Washington. ``So on the one hand, you will have a set of controls that do that. On the other hand, we will smooth out the process and enable civilian goods to reach the Iraqi people,'' he said. The British plan would allow all goods to enter Iraq except those on a U.N. list of military-related items, and it would allow the resumption of all commercial and cargo flights in and out of the country as long as they are inspected at the departure points, the British official said. At the same time, the proposal seeks to restrict Iraq's ability to rebuild its military arsenal by tightening border controls and cracking down on Baghdad's efforts to get control of its oil money through smuggling and illegal surcharges, the official said. In its front-page editorial, the Al-Qaddissiya newspaper rejected such ``smart sanctions'' and said Iraq will ``move on the path of breaking the chains of the embargo.'' ``All Arab and other neighboring countries are duty bound to realize the dangers entailed in the American game of smart sanctions,'' it said. ``Their national interests lie in consolidating their political, economic and trade bonds with Iraq and sidestepping any behavior which will harm Iraq.'' Iraq's neighbors - Turkey, Syria and Jordan - have expressed concern about the impact of Iraqi sanctions on their economies. Under the British plan, the United Nations will continue to maintain strict control over the billions of dollars Iraq earns annually from oil sales and will pay all suppliers of humanitarian goods to Iraq. The Security Council initiated a program in 1996 to help Iraqis cope with sanctions by allowing oil sales as long as the money was strictly controlled by the United Nations and went primarily for food, medicine, humanitarian supplies and oil spare parts. But there were delays in deliveries under the oil-for-food program because goods entering Iraq had to go through a U.N. approval process. More than $3 billion in contracts were held up - mainly by the United States but also by Britain - because of suspicions that the items could have a military purpose. Under the British proposal, Iraq will be able to import any goods unless they are on a U.N. list of items that must be reviewed because of possible military use. No ``holds'' on contracts will be allowed, the official said. The current six-month phase of the oil-for-food program expires June 3, and the British want their proposal incorporated into the extension of the program. The official said a draft resolution will be circulated to Security Council members next week. Iraq has campaigned for an end to the sanctions, saying the embargoes have perpetuated the suffering of Iraqis- a claim that has received sympathy in many quarters. The British proposal is in part a response to this growing criticism, Western diplomats said. Aid officials have said child malnutrition was a serious problem, and that people often sold their rations on the black market to raise money for other needs in Iraq, where a junior civil servant earns less than $3 a month. Iraq has eroded sanctions in the last year - resuming commercial and diplomatic ties with many countries, getting more than a dozen countries to start commercial flights to Baghdad, reopening a long-closed oil pipeline to Syria and illegally imposing a surcharge on its oil customers. ***************************************************** How smart are smart sanctions? By BBC News Online's Tarik Kafala The United States and the United Kingdom have promised to unveil a new syste m of sanctions against Iraq. _______________________________ Possible smart sanctions Strict embargo on military imports Retain control of Iraqi oil Travel restrictions on top officials Target regime's finances abroad Improve humanitarian image of sanctions ________________________________ Faced with the failure and growing international unpopularity of the current sanctions, London and Washington are proposing what they are calling "smart sanctions". These are supposed to be better targeted. Nobody is talking about a new UN Security Council resolution - the council is so divided on Iraq that this would probably be impossible - but a substantial shift in emphasis is anticipated. They will aim to hamper and inconvenience the Iraqi Government's leading officials and prevent Baghdad acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Need for change The smart sanctions will, British and American officials hope, kill off the widespread perception that sanctions cause great suffering for ordinary Iraqi people. Analysts say the blanket embargo on Iraqi imports has widely discredited economic sanctions because of the constant hold up of essential goods because they could have military applications. In the past Baghdad has ridiculed the embargo by claiming that pencil imports, for example, were banned because of the possible military use of the graphite. Critics of smart sanctions say teh authorities will be less concerned about the measures being genuinely smart, and more concerned with making the sanctions regime more presentable. Targeting the regime US officials are considering trying to impose travel restrictions on Iraqi officials close to President Saddam Hussein. This appears to have worked to some extent in the case of Serbia, where the European Union banned 600 named supporters of President Slobodan Milosevic from travelling in Europe. The freezing of foreign bank accounts could seriously cramp the foreign business activities of Iraqi officials, but this might have limited impact because of Iraq's tremendous oil wealth. It has also been suggested that war crimes indictments might be pursued against President Hussein and some of those close to him. Arms The smart sanctions are supposed to shift the emphasis from monitoring everything that Iraq imports, to allowing all imports except specific items with clear military applications. This, the reasoning goes, will stop a build up of weapons and the development of weapons of mass destruction. The new sanctions are not likely to give Iraq control of its oil Such an embargo would need the co-operation of all of Iraq's neighbours as well as weapons and military technology manufacturers around the world. After a recent tour of the Middle East, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that his ideas for new sanctions on Iraq got a warm welcome in the region. If this means Iraq's neighbours - Jordan, Syria and Turkey in particular - are seriously committed to helping block arms sales to Iraq, a targeted and strict arms embargo might be effective. Oil revenues British officials say it is very unlikely that London and Washington will, in the short term, give Iraq control of its oil revenues. The UN skims off money from an Iraqi oil revenues account to feed Iraq's Kurds, compensate Kuwait, and, when they were in action, pay for the weapons inspectors. It is estimated that that $24bn dollars of Iraqi oil revenues were under UN supervision last year, and that despite increased smuggling, only $1.5bn was under direct Iraqi control. Tighter border controls aimed at stopping arms imports could also clamp down on the oil smuggling. ************************************************************* Wednesday May 16 12:35 PM ET Britain Wants to End Bans on Iraqi Civilian Goods By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain, with backing from the United States, on Wednesday proposed an end to all decade-old sanctions on civilian goods to Iraq except for weapons-related materials, its officials said. A British-drafted resolution, expected to be circulated next week to all 15 Security Council members, is the first translation into concrete measures of new policies toward Iraq by the administration of President Bush, disclosed earlier this year. Britain is drafting the measure after lengthy negotiations with the United States and other council members. ``In essence we are ending sanctions on ordinary imports to Iraq but replacing them with a tightly focused set of controls on military and 'dual use' goods,'' a British official said. ``Iraq will be free to meet all of its civilian needs without impediment,'' he added. However, the new resolution would keep financial controls in place and still compel suppliers to Iraq to be paid from an account controlled by the United Nations that contains revenues from its oil sales. But the document may not include any details on what countries bordering Iraq, such as Jordan, Turkey and Syria, are expected to do. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who visited the region earlier this year, proposed placing monitors along their borders to control smuggling and banning contraband items. ``We are talking to the neighboring states on how that will work and there is a degree of sensitivity on that,'' the British official said. ``The neighboring states are very worried about economic retribution from Iraq.'' ONE AIM TO PLUG SMUGGLING One aim is to plug the widespread smuggling under the current sanctions regime, as well as to make Baghdad responsible for the suffering of ordinary Iraqis under sanctions, which have devastated the economy. ``Iraq is free to import what goods it wants but it is wholly responsible for the goods inside of Iraq,'' the British official said. The aim is to get a vote in the 15-member Security Council on the resolution before a next six-month phase of the oil-for-food program, which begins on June 4. That plan, instituted in late 1996, allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil, with proceeds put in a U.N. escrow account. The funds are then used to purchase food, medicine and other goods Baghdad has ordered to ease the impact of the sanctions, imposed in August 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Currently, food and medicines as well as some other items, such as bricks for construction and educational materials, are allowed to reach Baghdad without being approved by the council's sanctions committee. Under the British plan, other goods, from bicycles to sewing machines, would be allowed to reach Baghdad without approval from the committee. But Britain and the United States have no intention of relinquishing the escrow account, which means Iraqi contracts for supplies probably will still move through the United Nations' machinery, albeit at a faster place, the envoys said. Nevertheless, London and Washington want to shift gears and wind down parts of the oil-for-food program so civilian supplies can go to Iraq without approval by a council sanctions committee except for items that also can be used for weapons. LIST OF CONTRABAND CONTENTIOUS Agreeing on a list of contraband goods, already being compiled by the United States and Britain, is expected to be a point of contention. Currently, more than $3 billion worth of contracts are blocked, most of them by the United States, because of possible dual-use purposes or faulty paperwork. Gone, however, will be the complicated procedures Iraq goes through at the United Nations every six months in presenting a so-called distribution plan on the type of goods it will allocate and purchase, from food to oil industry equipment. The United States and Britain have been at odds for years with France, Russia and China, which want the embargoes suspended. Their reaction was described as ``reasonably positive'' to the new plan but all three may want changes. The new proposals, however, would forbid foreign investments and loans to Iraq, except those already approved for upgrading Baghdad's oil industry, the diplomats said. But council sources said a big question was whether Iraq's neighbors could be persuaded to cooperate. Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tareq Aziz said on Monday Baghdad would halt oil exports to Jordan and Turkey if they cooperated with U.S. sanctions plans. ``We will close the pipelines, stop the trucks and there will be no trade,'' he said, according to extracts of his speech broadcast on Iraqi television. ********************************************************** The Independent Britain and US plan looser trade sanctions on Saddam By David Usborne in New York 17 May 2001 British diplomats in New York yesterday released long-awaited proposals amending the 10-year-old sanctions regime on Iraq to concentrate their impact directly on trade in weapons-related goods and to free the flow into the country of imports meant for ordinary consumption by its people. "We are removing sanctions on all normal civilian goods, but applying very focused controls on military and related items," a British official at the UN confirmed. The proposal, backed by the United States, was submitted to the other members of the Security Council. The change in stance was signalled soon after President George Bush arrived at the White House. It will reverse the public relations advantage long held by Iraq's Saddam Hussein who has effectively portrayed the West as the persecutors of his people. But the approach may do little to end the antagonism between Iraq and the UN. Iraq is unlikely to respond by allowing UN inspectors to resume monitoring of its weapons programmes. Sanctions will be ended entirely only when the UN certifies Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. There have been no UN inspectors in the country for 15 months. And Baghdad is already bristling at behind-the-scenes activity by London and Washington to apply pressure on its eastern neighbours, Turkey and Jordan, to stop the flow of Iraqi oil into the countries in contravention of the UN embargo. Ending the embargo-busting is a crucial part of the proposed new US-UK measures against Iraq, which have been dubbed "smart sanctions". But Iraq warned Turkey and Jordan that it would halt all sales of oil to them if they co-operated with the new sanctions. Under the UK plan, officials would list items that could be used in weapons production. Attempts would be made to ensure those items were kept out of Iraq. All other goods would flow in without impediment. Even then, financial restrictions would force suppliers to Iraq to get their money through UN-controlled accounts. "If Iraq values the welfare of its people, then it should welcome the plan," the British official suggested. "This is a big shift. Everyone wants to ensure that the Iraqi people are able to be supplied with the goods they need while everyone equally agrees that Iraq should be prevented from rearming." The United States and Britain have been at odds for years with France, Russia and China, who want the embargoes suspended. Their reaction was described as "reasonably positive" to the new plan but all three may want changes. ***************************************************************** The Times THURSDAY MAY 17 2001 Sanctions eased on Iraq FROM JAMES BONE IN NEW YORK IN AN effort to court sceptical world public opinion, Britain has agreed with the United States to drop sanctions on all non-military imports by Iraq. The policy concession, expected to be approved by the UN Security Council, will enable President Saddam Hussein to import not just food and medicine but unlimited quantities of luxury goods. “If Saddam wants to buy Mercedes-Benzes, he can import as many as he wants,” one diplomat said. Military imports will still be banned outright, and “dual-use” items will require specific authorisation and may be subject to UN monitoring. The UN will continue to control Iraq’s finances through the existing escrow account that handles payments for Iraqi oil. Restrictions will also be eased on civilian flights to Iraq from designated locations. The new policy is intended to make clear — particularly in the Arab world — that the Iraqi people’s suffering is the fault of Saddam rather than the UN sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The concession is one part of a policy overhaul by the Bush Administration. The second is meant to be a tightening of border controls to prevent Iraq smuggling weapon components and oil into and out of the country. “Our approach is based on trying to build international consensus around the existing UN resolutions,” a British official said. Britain and the United States are ready to go ahead with one side of the bargain before any action is taken to clamp down on arms and oil smuggling. US and British officials are reconsidering the “no-fly-zones” over northern and southern Iraq after a Pentagon recommendation that fighter patrols be stopped or cut because of the danger to pilots. **************************************** Daily Telegraph ISSUE 2183 Thursday 17 May 2001 Britain and US aim to 'refocus' Iraqi embargo By Anton La Guardial, Diplomatic Editor BRITAIN and America have proposed a radical dismantling of many of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq in an attempt to regain the initiative against President Saddam Hussein. After months of talks behind the scenes, Britain will formally submit a United Nations Security Council resolution next week to ease the sanctions while tightening controls on the Baghdad regime's ability to build chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. But Iraq has threatened to cut off supplies of cheap oil to Jordan and Turkey - the main outlets for Iraqi oil - if they co-operate with the "smart sanctions". Britain and America have become isolated amid criticism that the decade-long sanctions have only caused appalling suffering among Iraqi civilians, without visibly weakening Saddam. The proposal to "refocus" the embargo is designed to win back political support, especially in the Middle East, where anti-Western emotions are running high because of the renewed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It amounts to a tacit abandonment of the American policy of deposing Saddam by economic pressure. One British official last night said: "The idea is to target the sanctions on the real threat, which is weapons of mass destruction. Iraq will have the means to address the suffering of its own people. If it fails to do so, it will be clear that it is because of its own choice." The British-American plan calls for removing most controls on Iraqi civilian supplies, while placing military or "dual-use" goods on a list of banned imports. This would go hand-in-hand with plans to tighten up inspections on Iraq's borders to reduce smuggling, which has given Saddam a source of income outside the control of the UN oil-for-food programme. It is likely that restrictions on civilian flights to Baghdad - now openly flouted - will be formally eased. There has been no response so far from other members of the Security Council - especially Russia, China and France which have been most critical of the sanctions policy. It is not clear whether Iraq's neighbours will agree to co-operate in clamping down on the lucrative smuggling trade with the country, which British officials estimate earned Saddam about £600 million last year. Jordan, Syria and Turkey have benefited from Iraqi oil at heavily discounted prices. The rise in the price of crude has given Iraq renewed economic clout, and it has steadily emerged from its isolation in the Arab world. British officials said there was no question of abolishing Security Council resolution 1284, which promises to lift sanctions entirely once Iraq is seen to co-operate with international weapons inspectors. "Iraq is still a threat," said one Whitehall source. "If its weapons programme is not checked, Iraq could develop an offensive chemical and biological capability, and a crude nuclear device within five years." At the moment, Iraq's oil revenues are paid into a UN escrow account and contracts for Iraqi imports must be vetted by the UN's oil-for-food programme. Under pressure to relieve humanitarian suffering, the UN allowed Iraq to export as much oil as it wants, and placed some imported goods on a "pre-approved" list to speed up the process. Iraq has long complained that the system is tortuous, and needlessly delays delivery of essential supplies. About $3 billion (£2.1 billion) worth of goods ordered by Iraq are currently "on hold" by the UN sanctions committee, mostly at the request of America and Britain, because of faulty paperwork or because they are suspected of being "dual-use" items that have an ostensible civilian purpose but can be used to develop Iraq's military capability. British officials say the new proposals invert the priorities: instead of scrutinising everything except a list of "fast-track" goods, the UN will allow Iraq to import anything except goods on a list of banned military equipment or "dual-use" goods. All Iraqi revenues would still have to pass through the UN's escrow account. London and Washington believe that controlling the finances of Iraq is the best way of preventing it from rebuilding weapons of mass destruction. ****************************************************** Britain and US urge end to Iraq sanctions UN resolution seeks to ease plight of civilians by lifting ban on all exports to Baghdad, except for arms Richard Norton-Taylor Thursday May 17, 2001 The Guardian Britain, backed by the US, yesterday proposed the end of all sanctions on exports to Iraq, with the exception of weapons related materials . A British-drafted UN security council resolution, to be tabled next week, is the first concrete plan to emerge after President George Bush's administration indicated earlier this year that it wanted a new policy towards Iraq. "In essence we are ending sanctions on ordinary imports to Iraq, but replacing them with a tightly focused set of controls on military and 'dual use' goods," a British official said. "Iraq will be free to meet all of its civilian needs without impediment." However, the new resolution will maintain existing financial controls on Iraq and still compel exporters to be paid from a UN-controlled account which contains Baghdad's oil revenues. The International Institute for Strategic Studies yesterday urged the UN to drop sanctions on all commercial exports to Iraq, abandon restrictions on civil flights to and from Baghdad, and for Britain and the US to suspend their air patrols over the no-fly zone in southern Iraq. In its latest annual strategic survey, the London-based thinktank - known for its cautious approach - called for a new policy towards Iraq, including extra foreign investment in its oil industry. The report says that the UN should shift from a "presump tion to deny" to a "presumption to permit" exports of dual-use goods to Iraq - products with a civilian and potential military use. The report coincides with new attempts at the UN by Britain and the US to redefine their policy amid growing opposition to sanctions, most notably among Iraq's neighbours. The measures would include relaxing controls on exports of civilian goods. Though the institute says that most commercial contracts submitted to the UN sanctions committee are approved automatically, trade restrictions when applied "spur the black market, which increases the price of commodities to the further detriment of an already impoverished [Iraqi] middle class". The report says the policy also contributes to perceptions that the Iraqi people are the real target of sanctions, and says increased civilian trade would provide a much-needed economic boost for Jordan and Turkey. "It is true that some money will pay for cigars and champagne for Saddam and his cronies", the report says, "but this is a trivial reason to maintain a sanctions policy that undermines the regional public support required to sustain long-term containment of Iraq's revanchist ambitions." It says that as long as President Saddam remains in power, the US and Britain must at least be prepared to use force to prevent a return to his programme of building weapons of mass destruction. To be able to use such force when "absolutely essential" they must forgo their attacks against Iraqi air defences. In practice, this means suspending the southern air patrols whilemaintaining their bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Greater efforts should be made to freeze the assets of members of the Iraqi regime and to thwart contraband, it says. The UN should also insist on tough guidelines on weapons inspection. The survey also discusses the "new security agenda", including terrorism, ethnic strife, food and energy scarcities, drug trafficking, population growth and organised crime. It describes global warming and the "ceaseless flow of refugees and economic migrants" as major threats. ************************************************************** Excerpt from the March 2001 voices newsletter (see www.welcome.to/voicesuk) : 3) SAME OLD "STUPID" SANCTIONS The so-called "smart sanctions" package that Colin Powell is about to announce cannot solve the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. All Powell is doing is promising to stop hindering oil-for-food. But oil-for-food cannot solve the humanitarian crisis. When we compare what is being proposed with what is needed, we must agree with the Economist's verdict that 'the British proposal of "smart sanctions" offers an aspirin where surgery is called for.' (editorial, 24 Feb. 2001) Iraqi families need purchasing power. Iraq's health infrastructure needs a major development effort. And Iraq's oil industry needs massive investment. None of these needs can be met under Powell's proposals. What Is Proposed As far as we know, the US Secretary of State is about to announce: The release of a large amount of humanitarian goods so far blocked (on 'hold') by the US in the UN Sanctions Committee; A promise to impose fewer 'holds' in future; Tighter border controls in countries bordering Iraq aimed at preventing smuggling to Iraq; And, perhaps, measures targeting the movement and finances of members of the Iraqi government. As far as the humanitarian side of his proposals go, all Powell is going to do is promise to stop sabotaging the UN's oil-for-food programme. But oil-for-food is totally inadequate to the crisis. Private trade between Iraq and the rest of the world will still be outlawed ('comprehensive economic sanctions'); government trade with the outside world will still go through a UN-controlled supply system (the "oil-for-food" deal); and private foreign investment in key sectors in Iraq will still be banned. What Is Needed Colin Powell has talked about the 'three baskets' of US Iraq policy: sanctions; no-fly zones; and the Iraqi opposition. There are also three 'pillars of strength' that millions of Iraqi families need desperately. The First Pillar - Income The first requirement is family purchasing power: jobs, and wages paid in a currency that is worth something. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation reported in 1995 that the solution to the nutritional crisis in Iraq required (apart from 'adequate food supplies in the country') restoring the 'viability' of the Iraqi Dinar, and 'creating conditions for the people to acquire adequate purchasing power'. 'But, these conditions can be fulfilled only if the economy can be put back in proper shape enabling it to draw on its own resources, and that clearly cannot occur as long as the embargo remains in force.' ('Evaluation of Food and Nutrition Situation in Iraq', 1995) Infrastructure The second requirement is for basic services, such as clean drinking water, sewage and sanitation services, education and health services, and electrical power generation (to enable all these other sectors to function). But reconstructing essential civilian infrastucture will cost $50 to $100bn, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, discussing the matter last year. So far, only $10.3bn worth of humanitarian goods have been delivered to Iraq under oil-for-food (over $6bn spent on food). The Third Pillar - Oil To breathe life into the economy, and to finance social provision on the scale that Iraqis used to enjoy, Iraq needs earnings from a safe, dependable supply of oil. But a decade of sanctions has left the oil industry in a dismal condition, and foreign investment to open up new oil fields is banned under the present arrangements. Colin Powell doesn't appear about to change that. conclusions The Economist points out that most Iraqis ('the new booming elite apart') are still 'barely above survival level': 'To recover from its 11 years under the sanctions battering-ram - which has crushed the country's industrial and agricultural infrastructure - Iraq needs the freedom, and overseas investment, of a huge reconstruction effort.' If the US really is willing to let oil-for-food function as intended, that is welcome. But oil-for-food cannot solve the humanitarian crisis, as was pointed out by the UN Security Council's own expert 'Humanitarian Panel' in March 1999. The Panel said 'the humani-tarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely through remedial humanitarian efforts.' The Panel wrote that, regardless of the improvements that might be brought about - in terms of 'approval procedures', 'better performance by the Iraqi Government', or higher 'funding levels' - 'the magnitude of the humanitarian needs is such that they cannot be met' by oil-for-food. This is the programme that the USA is finally going to permit to function. It's the same old stupid sanctions. Milan Rai 4) SMARTER HOLDS Return to top Neil Partrick, of the Royal United Services Institute in London, points out that Colin Powell's new proposal regarding sanctions on Iraq 'is not so much genuinely smart as an attempt to make sanctions appear smarter and more presentable.' 'Sanctions that were genuinely smarter would shift the situation from saying that everything is forbidden, with certain exceptions, to saying that everything is permitted except some items, such as those with seriously potential dual use.' (Guardian, 26 Feb. 2001) "Smart sanctions" are targeted against particular groups of people. Comprehensive economic sanctions close down the entire economy and hurt the general population. The package about to be announced by Colin Powell is NOT a "smart sanctions" package. It is a reform of the current comprehensive economic sanctions. (voices uk doesn't campaign for "smart sanctions" - we campaign for the immediate and unconditional lifting of economic sanctions - but we believe it is important for people to know that the US initiative is not what people mean by "smart sanctions".) Select Committee The House of Commons Select Committee on Development issued a report on "smart sanctions" last February. Noting US epidemiologist Richard Garfield's estimate that over 200,000 children had died as a result of the economic sanctions, the Committee 'recognise[s] that sanctions, unless carefully targeted, have the capacity to kill more children than armed warfare.' 'If sanctions are to be retained as a credible instrument of foreign policy, they must increasingly seek to target the assets of specific groups or individuals responsible for breaches of international law'. The Committee recommended 'financial sanctions' and 'arms embargoes'. Advantages A Department for International Development (DFID) conference pointed out that financial sanctions are better than economic sanctions: By hurting the regime more than the general population they are morally more acceptable; They avoid the humanitarian costs of comprehensive trade embargoes; They therefore make the UN less vulnerable to the accusation that its policies violate human rights and subvert its own humanitarian obligations; They therefore make it more difficult for the target regime to rally domestic and foreign support against the sanctions; those hurt are those with international money which is a minority of the population; They minimise the costs to the close trading partners of the target state; They deny the target regime the black market that enables the elite to profit from sanctions; They deny the target regime the opportunity to extend its control over the population by taking control of humanitarian aid; and They have fewer long term social costs and do less damage to the institutions of the targeted country. Powell's Proposals Colin Powell says he favours tightening sanctions 'on all those sorts of equipments and other materials that put the people of the region at risk,' while removing some of the restrictions on goods 'that can go to civilians for civilian use.' (BBC News Online, 27 Feb. 2001) 'Even so-called dual-use items, those with possible military application, such as water pumps and refrigeration equipment, may be cleared, he said.' 'Powell said he was convinced in talks with Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria that the sanctions regime could be modified for consumer and even some dual-use goods. He admitted to risk in the second category, but said such items as water pumps are vital to poor villages but are banned under the sanctions.' (AP, 27 Feb. 2001) 'Britain's partners have been told that [the new policy] would also be in the framework of the oil-for-food programme, in order to ensure that military items would be under strict control, while civilian goods would be waved through more expeditiously.' (Independent, 21 Feb. 2001, p. 8) Conclusion It seems that a large amount of holds may be released soon - perhaps over $1bn. While welcome, it demonstrates that there never was a justification for these holds in the first place. And there has always been, as the Secretary-General has repeatedly stated, adequate UN monitoring to ensure that allegedly 'dual-use' goods do not go to nefarious purposes. The package Powell is proposing continues the comprehensive economic embargo. It does not have the advantages identified in the DFID conference report. It's about slightly smarter holds rather than smarter sanctions. Milan Rai *************************************************************** The Editor The Financial Times Roula Khalaf and Carola Hoyos correctly note that the new British 'smart' sanctions resolution is 'aimed at shifting the blame for the suffering of Iraqis' (UN set to consider easing Iraqis sanctions, 17 May). Unfortunately it is not aimed at ending the appalling humanitarian crisis in Iraq and, contrary to Government spin, it will not do so. Indeed, in March '99 the UN's own Humanitarian Panel concluded that the humanitarian situation in Iraq would 'continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy.' The new British proposal - by maintaining rigid control of Iraq's finances - prevents such a revival. Instead the UN will continue to run Iraq's economic life on the model of a gigantic refugee camp, albeit one with a slightly smoother-running bureaucracy. Similarly, according to Save the Children UK 'the deterioration in Iraq's civilian infrastructure is so far-reaching that it can only be reversed with extensive investment and development efforts.' The British proposal continues the prohibition on such efforts. Setting PR considerations aside then, it's not 'smart' sanctions but the same old 'stupid' ones. Gabriel Carlyle 46 Rymers Lane Oxford tel. 01865 - 714 036 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk