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Re: Britsh Ambassador's letter to I Tmes

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)


                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 

                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 
                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 
                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 
                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 
                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

                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 
                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 
                opinion by cynically parading the suffering which it has 
                - Yours, etc.,

                Sir IVOR ROBERTS, British Ambassador, Merrion
                Road, Dublin 4.

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