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RE: Chlorine, water treatment, and holds

Hi Joy,

Chlorine is not on the new 1051 lists of "notifiable" items (see the Unmovic
links to S/2001/560 at, in
particular the chemical page:; n.b. these are
drafts - the final document is available on Unmovic's website in a format
that's harder to read: see  This means that
chlorine's import is technically no more nor less difficult than the import
of anything else that's not on the "green lists" established under Security
Council Resolution 1284: a single dissenting opinion by any member of the
Iraq Sanctions Committee will stop it.

I've never heard of chlorine contracts being blocked.  There was a brief
discussion of chlorine on this list earlier in the year initiated by Tim
Buckley.  The following links to the archive present part of that discussion
(in chronological order):

In my contributions to that discussion, I set out most of what I know about
this situation.

I don't think that Unicef has responsibility for purchasing chlorine
throughout the country.  The usual arrangement is that UN agencies purchase
for Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraqi government ministries for the rest of the
country.  For example, in the latest distribution plan (see, the water and sanitation
sector lists a number of sub-sectors, including the General Establishment
for Water and Sewerage Requirements, an Iraqi government body (see; you will see that it's first
contract listed involves chlorine gas.

Yes, there is a ceiling on the funds that can be used to purchase chlorine.
The distribution plans have budgetary features: they specify the quantity of
money that can be spent on various sectors of the economy.  The Iraqi
government does over- and under- spend relative to the plans.  Further, it
is the body that chooses how to allocate the funds.

Chlorine is only one input to water quality.  Another that was stressed to
me by NGO staff when I was in Baghdad last winter was trained staff.  The
individual who explained this to me pointed out that they could rehabilitate
a water treatment plant so that the water leaving it met first world
standards.  Without the ability to trained staff, and pay them sufficiently
to come to work, though, the equipment would be of limited use.  Other
obstacles include the actual distribution infrastructure (pipes leak,
drawing in dirty water) and the absence of reliable electricity.

Regarding holds and water, the latest Secretary-General's report (see explains that there have
recently been sectoral reviews of holds, with particular attention paid to
the water and sanitation sector.  I don't know much about this process, but
it's likely that holds in this area have "improved".  Paragraphs 47 - 51
discuss the sector in more depth, noting holds on the water tankers,
protective equipment for handling chlorine and mechanical and electrical
equipment for water treatment plants.  These are almost certainly US holds;
I don't recall any discussion of them.

I hope that this helps somewhat.  Please do let us know what you find.

Best wishes,

Colin Rowat

work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham |
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