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U.S. TO PUSH TO REFORM IRAQ UN SANCTIONS WASHINGTON, Oct 24, 2001 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters Wednesday the United States was still trying to reform United Nations sanctions against Iraq, despite the fact the Bush administration is keeping a close eye on Baghdad with regard to the new war on terrorism. "We keep a close eye on Iraq," Powell said before meeting with British Foreign Minister Jack Straw. We will continue to work on modifying the sanctions regime so we keep the Iraqi regime bottled up with respect to the development of weapons of mass destruction." The United Nations ended up extending for five months on June 30 the current sanctions regime on Iraq, which restricts Saddam Hussein from spending his oil proceeds on anything except food, medicine and some infrastructure improvements. The June 30 vote from the Security Council represented a significant defeat for Powell who had pushed for a looser program with regard to allowing civilian goods into the country while strengthening controls on smuggling to and from Iraq. At the time, Russia would not agree to the new sanctions, objecting to the new proposal's list of restricted goods allowed into the country. At the same time, the sanctions proposal came under attack from many of Iraq's Arab neighbors under economic threats from Saddam to cut off oil supply routes with those countries, not captured under the current sanctions regime. More hawkish elements in the Bush administration also resisted the plan, particularly the Defense Department that has advocated a more aggressive policy in toppling Saddam's regime altogether. Despite previous sparring, Powell said Wednesday, "the entire national community is united around" his sanctions plan. The United Nations General Assembly will open on Nov. 10 in New York after that body postponed the meeting in light of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. One State Department official told UPI that Powell will make a push for the new sanctions when he attends the U.N. session next month. Powell met with his Russian and Chinese counterparts in Shanghai last week during the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher Tuesday said at a press conference Tuesday, "We have discussed this with the Russians, we will keep discussing it with the Russians. We have had expert talks. We have had some more contacts." A State Department official told UPI Wednesday that U.S. negotiators had agreed to "consider some Russian ideas" with regards to the goods review list, which Moscow has sought to narrow. One source familiar with these "ideas" said Russian diplomats have objected to the inclusion of hydro-acoustic equipment and fiber optics being placed on the list. In February, U.S. fighters bombed a fiber-optics air defense network near Baghdad built by the Chinese Huawei Corporation. It appears unlikely U.S. diplomats will agree to further winnow the goods review list, however some observers say U.S. diplomats would be open to reviewing to removing specific references to a 1996 arms export control regime known as the Wassenaar Arrangement in the U.N. list of restricted items to Iraq. Wassenaar imposes restraints on both arms technology and dual use items that may have civilian use. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.