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At 21:11 29/07/2001 +0100, you wrote: >Hi _ dont seem to have the furore causing letter - can u send, love f and >thanks x Here it is: (BTW, Von Sponeck and Bishop Gumbleton were in Dublin at our invitation and addressed a very successful public meeting. Von Sponeck scribbled the his letter on a paper late at night while in a B&B ! -- Sandeep) SANCTIONS ON IRAQ Sir, - Deaglán de Bréadún's report on sanctions in Iraq (July 16th), is on past form likely to prompt many letters from readers justifiably concerned at the plight of the Iraqi people. Your correspondent's report will lead many erroneously to blame the UK and US. Could I therefore anticipate this by focusing on some facts about Iraq and the sanctions regime? The sanctions are not about choking-off legitimate civilian trade or humanitarian assistance. We have consistently sought to liberalise the sanctions regime to allow trade and aid to get through to the Iraqi people. But the Security Council has always maintained that we must not compromise the strict controls in place on Iraq's weaponry. The Oil for Food (OFF) programme was designed to allow the Iraqi regime to export oil, through a UN-controlled account, to fund the humanitarian programme. Since OFF began in December, 1996, over $23.5 billion of contracts have been approved, including $11 billion for food and $1.8 billion of health contracts. But over $3.7 billion remains unspent in UN accounts. At the same time, the Iraqi regime has cut health sector spending by 52 per cent and education spending by 20 per cent. The argument that the UN is causing the humanitarian situation to deteriorate is false. If that were so, why are Kurdish areas of Iraq, which are self-governing, better off than those controlled by Baghdad? Why, on June 4th, did Iraq announce it could live without OFF revenues? And why, if Saddam Hussein is concerned about the deterioration of living conditions in Iraq, did he spend more than $25 million on birthday celebrations for himself, with 100 murals and 20 statues erected as a "gift to the Iraqi people". The Iraqi regime is willing to trade the well-being of its people for black market revenues earned from charging illegal surcharges on oil exported outside UN controls and illegally smug ling oil. It is estimated that Iraq earns $3 million a day from oil smuggled through the Iraq-Syria pipeline, amounting to $400 million over six months, enough to meet the health needs of the Iraqi people for the same period. Instead the funds go straight into the regime's pocket. There are no restrictions on legitimate trade with Iraq. Deaglán de Bréadún is wrong to imply that the UK is at the forefront of those restricting exports to Iraq or that contracts are "unreasonably blocked". The UK has approved 98 per cent of all contracts submitted to it for approval. In May 2001, out of the 1,696 contracts on hold, only 182 were at the UK's request. More than half of these had been held up because companies submitted incomplete information about the contract. Others were held back because of serious concerns that they would contribute to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programmes. This Iraqi government, which blames others for the suffering of the Iraqi people, is the same cynical regime responsible for horrific human rights abuses including countless recent examples of torture and murder. Counted among these incidences are the beheading in October 2000 of dozens of women accused of prostitution, without trial, or the brutal torture of prisoners accused of slandering the president, for which the punishment is the removal of the accused's tongue. Further examples include the disappearance of hundreds of political activists in the last year alone, or the gassing of Iraqi Kurds in the village of Halabja in 1988. The humanitarian situation in Iraq is appalling, but the guilt rests not with UN nor the UK. It rests squarely with the government of Iraq for failing to use its many resources for the benefit of its people. Instead it has sought to manipulate international public opinion by cynically parading the suffering which it has caused. - Yours, etc., Sir IVOR ROBERTS, British Ambassador, Merrion Road, Dublin 4. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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