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'smart' sanctions emergency nose-in

Dear friends,

Voices had spoken to some media folk and it seems highly likely that the new
resolution will be out on Monday.


(for pictures from the original nose-in, including the very snazzy banner,

This demonstration will take place outside the FCO (on the Whitehall side)
at 1pm. Robin Cook beards, 'Pinocchio' noses  and placards will be provided.

 To co-ordinate this we're asking all those who think they *might* be able
to make it to e-mail the voices office at  with
a telephone contact number. I will then ring round people the morning the
news breaks at around 9 - 10 am. Hopefully this will forestall folk turning
up on the 'wrong' day.

As this may well be our only media window for a while, folk might also want
to gird themselves to fire off letters to the papers. I've included some
useful quotes below.

Three more pieces on the British proposal below (which also clear up the
ambiguity in yesterday's NYT piece - relaxing the import embargo isn't
conditional upon the weapons inspectors returning) plus an apparent
admission from an anonymous British official that in the late '80's the
British Government behaved in a manner that was 'no[t] sane.'

Indeed, AFP quotes an anonymous British official as stating that 'There will
be a range of items which will never be allowed into Iraq; there are some
goods which no sane person would want Saddam Hussein to get his hands on.'

According to British academic Mark Phythian ('Arming Iraq: How the US and
Britain Secretly Built Saddam's War Machine'):

'... between 1987 and the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq was able to receive an
entire inventory of military and militarily useful equipment from the United
Kingdom ... Iraq was sent items such as aircraft engines, equipment and
parts; body armour; depleted uranium; ejection seats and spares; fast
assault craft; helicopter engines; radar systems and equipment; an air
defence simulator; armor vehicle spares; boats; CNC lathes; explosive
detectors; explosives; gas respirators; naval spares; night vision
equipment; pistols, rifles, and shotguns; plutonium; portable explosive
detectors; and secure telephone systems and spares.'

Sane or insane? I leave you to judge ...

Best wishes,

voices uk

A. Some useful quotes


* '... the humanitarian 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’ (UN Humanitarian
Panel Report, March 1999). [By retaining the oil-for-food framework, the
British proposal prevents such a revival, basically continuing to run Iraq's
economic life on the model of a refugee camp with 22 million inhabitants.]

* Oil-for-food 'does not contain  the elements of comprehensive planning and
economic revival that we believe to be essential in order to reverse the
dangerously degraded state of the country's civilian infrastructure and
social services' (Human Rights Watch, January 2000).

* 'An emergency commodity assistance program like oil-for-food, no matter
how well funded or well run, cannot reverse the devastating consequences of
war and then ten years of virtual shut-down of Iraq's economy.' (Human
Rights Watch, August 2000)

* Oil-for-food was ‘never intended ... to be a substitute for normal
economic activity’ (UN Secretary-General's Report, March 2001), the absence
of which ‘has given rise to the spread of deep-seated poverty’ (S-G Report,
November 2000).


* 'The deterioration in Iraq's civilian infrastructure is so far reaching
that it can only be reversed with extensive investment and development
efforts.' (Human Rights Watch, Save the Children UK et. al. , August 2000).

* 'Regardless of the improvements that might be brought about - in terms of
approval procedures, better performance by the Iraqi Government, or funding
levels - the magnitude of the humanitarian needs is such that they cannot be
met within the context of [the oil-for-food programme] ... Nor was the
programme intended to meet all the needs of the Iraqi people ... Given the
present state of the infrastructure, the revenue required for its
rehabilitation is far above the level available under the programme.' (UN
Humanitarian Panel, March 1999).


The following quotes were in response to the 'smart' sanctions proposal
mooted in February this year - a proposal very similar to the current one.

* 'The British proposal of 'smart sanctions' offers and aspirin where sugery
is called for' (The Economist, 24th February 2001)

* 'What is proposed is not so much genuinely smart as an attempt to make
sanctions appear smarter and more presentable' (Neil Partrick of the Royal
United Services Institute, quoted in the Guardian, 26 February 2001).

* 'It may be that all there will be is a change of presentation to re-focus
domestic and international opinion on Saddam' (anonymous British official,
quoted in the Daily Telegraph, 21 February 2001)

* '... if Britain released all the contracts currently on hold, the
situation would only revert to that of two years ago, a UN diplomat said.
"So they would be curing a problem of their own making"

As for the 'smart sanctions' Britain's partners have been told that these
would also be in the framework of the oil-for-food humanitarian programme,
in order to ensure that military items would be under strict control, while
civilian goods would be waved through more expeditiously: "It sounds like
they want to shake up the bureacracy. But it's like trying to shake up the
Gosplan in the Soviet Union," one diplomat said.'
('Easing' of Iraqi sanctions will make little difference, says UN, The
Independent, 21 February 2001)


B. The 3 press articles:

1. UN Envoys Query Quick Adoption of New Iraqi Plans, Reuters
2.  U.S. Switches Iraq Policy
3. British diplomat proposes abolishing UN embargo on non-military trade
with Iraq, AFP


Thursday May 17 4:01 PM ET

UN Envoys Query Quick Adoption of New Iraqi Plans
By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China and other U.N. Security Council envoys
raised doubts on Thursday whether a dramatic British-American offer to ease
sanctions against Baghdad could be approved quickly. Iraq objects to any
plan short of lifting the embargoed entirely.

Diplomats expect intense negotiations among the five council powers with
veto power -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- over
the specifics on the new plan, such as a list of goods that would still be
barred from Iraq.

And France is known to be pushing for foreign investments, which the United
States and Britain oppose.

Britain, working with its American counterparts, is preparing to offer as
early as Monday a draft Security Council resolution that would eliminate
bans on civilian goods imported to Iraq but tighten controls on
military-related materials.

The aim is to get a vote in the 15-member council by May 31, before the next
six-month phase of the U.N. humanitarian oil-for-food program begins on June

But the measure is not expected to contain details on how to stop smuggling
at Iraq's borders as the United States wants, a risk in loosening
restrictions without stepping up controls. A British official conceded on
Wednesday ``the neighboring states are very worried about economic
retribution from Iraq.''

To go into force, the resolution would need a list of military-related items
banned as well as new procedures that drop much of the current methods of
approving Iraqi goods.

China's deputy representative, Shen Guofang, told reporters he hoped the
oil-for-food program would be rolled over on the same terms and then
followed by a separate resolution. The new proposals ``contain a lot of
detailed things and complicated elements. We hope it will be separate,''
Shen said.

France, diplomats said, is expected to advocate relaxed restrictions on
foreign investment, now limited to helping Iraq upgrade its oil industry.
``For France, freeing the economy means foreign help in goods and
services,'' one envoy said.

Russia, excepted to take the toughest position, appeared unimpressed by the
proposals. ``There are too many unclear points in the proposals and
questions, to which we have not got answers in the course of preliminary
consultations,'' Sergei Ordzhonikidze, a deputy foreign minister, said in
Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency.

Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States are permanent members
of the Security Council with veto power.

Baghdad, wants sanctions lifted entirely or a de facto withering away of the
embargoes, which were imposed in August 1990 after its troops invaded

For Iraq, any move to tighten or liberalize the sanctions appears to be
putting another regime in place to keep the embargoes going for years to

A Thursday editorial in al-Thawra, mouthpiece of the ruling Ba'ath Party,
said alleged ``smart sanctions aim to strengthen the embargo imposed on Iraq
for more than 10 years and is a plan to avoid world criticism.''

Iraq has been under blanket trade sanctions since it invaded Kuwait, except
for humanitarian supplies, with an increasing amount of civilian goods
allowed in over the past several years.

To ease the impact of the sanctions on ordinary Iraqis, an oil-for-food deal
began in late 1996. This allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil, with
proceeds put in a U.N. escrow account. The funds are then used to buy goods
Baghdad orders.

Currently, food and medicine as well as such items as bricks and educational
materials, are allowed to reach Iraq without being approved by the council's
sanctions committee.

Under the new plan, other supplies from bicycles to sewing machines can be
imported without the committee's consent.

But the draft resolution would maintain the existing escrow account into
which Iraqi oil revenues are deposited. The United Nations then pays
suppliers of goods Iraq orders.

``In essence, we are ending sanctions on ordinary civilian imports and
replacing it with a very tightly focused control regime,'' said the British
official briefing reporters. ``If our proposals are adopted, Iraq will have
no excuse for the suffering of the Iraqi people.''

To get sanctions suspended entirely, Iraq has to cooperate with U.N. weapons
inspectors to make sure it no longer has programs for weapons of mass
destruction. Baghdad has refused to allow inspectors to return since the
December 1998 bombing raids by the United States and Britain.

The new British draft is separate from inspection demands, contained in
December 1999 resolution that Iraq rejects.


Thursday May 17 6:37 PM ET

U.S. Switches Iraq Policy
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States is abandoning an unpopular 11-year
campaign to deny Iraq consumer goods in the hope that the plight of the
Iraqi people would cause them to turn against President Saddam Hussein.

Lining up with Britain, which stood virtually alone with the United States
on maintaining harsher sanctions, the Bush administration also is urging
tighter controls on export to Iraq of arms and weapons-related items.

The policy shift took four months to crystallize as Secretary of State Colin
Powell vied with the Pentagon and other sectors of the administration over
imported items with potential application to Iraq's military.

Even now, as American diplomats consult with other governments on a
prospective U.N. resolution to be introduced next week to lift the economic
sanctions, administration officials are debating privately which so-called
dual-use items to ban and which to approve for export to Iraq, a senior U.S.
official told The Associated Press.

``We're working toward what will be a significant change in our approach to
Iraq in the United Nations,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
said Thursday. ``The focus is on strengthening controls to prevent Iraq from
rebuilding military capability in weapons of mass destruction while
facilitating a broader flow of goods to the civilian population of Iraq.''

Powell is inclined to take a lenient view of such items as water pumps and
refrigerated trucks, which theoretically could be used for military purposes
but are much more likely to lessen the pain of the Iraqi people.

A list is being compiled of items that would remain off-limits to Iraq,
their value and their use. At the same time, American diplomats are
resisting efforts by other governments to go further in the direction of

The U.N. sanctions on weapons and consumer goods were imposed as part of a
U.S.-led drive to reverse Iraq's annexation of Kuwait in 1990. Powell was
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War, which
liberated Kuwait but left Saddam in power.

Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, who is in charge of international
organizations and oversees U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations, is ending a
trip to Europe, where he consulted with French, Belgian and other officials
on the resolution to lift sanctions due to be introduced next week.

British officials have said they received positive responses to the proposal
from, among others, France, China and Russia, besides the United States and
Britain the only members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power. To
varying degrees, all three have opposed the current sanctions.

In Moscow, Russia's deputy foreign minister said too little is known about
the new proposal to determine his country's position now. ``It is clearly
premature,'' Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze told the Interfax
news agency and said it does not resolve political problems Russia insists
be settled.

Boucher said the proposal ``obviously will be a subject'' of discussion
between Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Powell when the Russian visits
Friday, seeing both the secretary of state and President Bush.

For Powell, who is inclined to take a more moderate course in foreign policy
and security than Bush's harder-line advisers, the policy shift reflects
both his own instincts and advice offered by Arab and other governments.

``The point is to work together to help the Iraqi people at the same time as
we control the ability of the regime in Baghdad to develop weapons of mass
destruction,'' the State Department's Boucher said.

The plan would not require Iraq to let international arms inspections to
resume before consumer sanctions could be lifted, Boucher said. ``That was
never part of the picture,'' he said.

On the other hand, Boucher said, to get all sanctions removed Iraq must let
the inspectors return. They have been excluded for 21/2 years.


 Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 16 May 2001

British diplomat proposes abolishing UN embargo on non-military trade with

by Robert Holloway
UNITED NATIONS, May 16 (AFP) - Britain has circulated proposals to other
members of the Security Council to end the 10-year-old UN embargo on trade
with Iraq for all non-military goods, a British diplomat said Wednesday.

He said the aim was to "return to the core objective" of preventing Iraqi
rearmament after its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, while depriving Baghdad of
the opportunity to blame sanctions for the suffering of its people.

But he said the proposals did not replace "the comprehensive framework of
Resolution 1284," which insisted that Iraq allow UN arms inspectors to
return but offered the possibility of suspending sanctions if it cooperates
with them.

The inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 on the eve of a bombing campaign
by US and British aircraft, and Iraq has said it will not allow them back

The diplomat, who asked not to be identified, said he hoped the proposals
would be included in a draft resolution for adoption by the council before
June 3, when the current 180-day phase of the Iraq oil-for-food programme

The programme has since December 1996 enabled Iraq to export crude oil under
UN supervision, using part of the revenue to import basic necessities
approved by the council's sanctions committee.

The programme was designed to alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi people,
whose standard of living has collapsed since sanctions were imposed when
Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and occupied the emirate for seven

If the council accepts the British proposals, it will mean an end to much of
the "cumbersome bureaucracy" in the oil-for-food programme, the diplomat

"Until now, nothing has been allowed into Iraq except contracts approved by
the sanctions committee," he said.

"We are going to change that, and allow in everything except a range of
goods related to conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction."

Import contracts would be checked against a list of prohibited goods being
compiled by the arms inspectorate UNMOVIC (for UN Monitoring, Verification
and Inspection Commission) and the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), he said.

He said the new list would be more detailed and more precise than ones in
current use and would be based in part on the July 1996 Wassenaar
arrangement, signed by 33 countries and covering conventional weapons and
sensitive dual-use goods and technologies.

If an import contract contained no listed items, it would be allowed to go
ahead, but if some items were on the list, the sanctions committee could do
one of three things, the diplomat said.

Possible options would be to reject the contract outright; to insist on
deleting objectionable items; or to use officials with the oil-for-food
programme in Iraq to monitor the use of the goods to ensure they were not
being used for military purposes, he said.

"There will be a range of items which will never be allowed into Iraq; there
are some goods which no sane person would want Saddam Hussein to get his
hands on," he added.

But, he said, the proposals would mean an end to the highly controversial
practice of putting "holds" on contracts by the sanctions committee.

At present, 3.7 billion dollars worth of contracts have been blocked, almost
all of them by Britain or the United States.

This more than any other aspect of the oil-for-food programme has driven a
deep wedge between these two and the three other permanent Security Council
members: China, France and Russia.

The five are also divided over the scope of an air embargo contained in the
original sanctions resolution, and the diplomat said the draft resolution
would probably lift the ban, provided means were in place to verify that
Iraq could not import banned goods.

"We don't have a philosophical objection to commercial flights going to
Iraq; the issue for us is not trade but inspection," he said.

He said the financial mechanism which gives the UN complete control of
Iraq's oil revenues and allocates part of that money to compensating Kuwait
for war damage, would remain intact.

rh/jlp AFP

Copyright (c) 2001 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 05/16/2001 18:11:44

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