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RE: US, Britain representatives put new contracts on hold.

Thanks for the postings, Dirk.  You noted and asked:

> b) there are discussions, also on this list, about facts & figures of
contracts on hold by the
> Sanctions committee. And there are several sources that give us
contradictory information. The
> second article is an accusation of the Iraqi minister of Transport and
Communications. This kind
> of articles appear often in the Iraqi press. I don't see why they
shouldn't be trusted. Or am I
> wrong? This subject makes a good topic for a more profound discussion.

In general, there is little publicly available information on the state of
`oil for food' contracts.  Holds that become problematic are occasionally
mentioned in the Secretary-General's 90 and 180 day reports.  New holds are
often mentioned in the Office of the Iraq Programme's weekly updates
(usually one of the first links at

I would be careful about both the accuracy of claims and their
interpretation.  In this case, the statement seems plausible from accuracy's
point of view: "telephones, vehicles for transport, constructing materials,
spare parts, diggers, and boars for ports services" sound like the sort of
things that are placed on hold.  The Office of the Iraq Programme's most
recent weekly update notes that:

<begin quote>
During the week, the Committee released from hold six contracts, worth $5.9
million, while placing on hold 53 new contracts, worth $139.9 million.  The
new “holds” included one high-value contract in the agriculture sector for
water tankers, worth over $27 million, and five contracts, worth $35.4
million, for railway cargo cars and locomotive spare parts.
<end quote>

My sense is that, apart from statements about items "banned" under
sanctions, claims about holds are often accurate in spite of the relative
lack of transparency in this area.

Let me illustrate the question of interpretation by example.  The Iraqi
government ordered ambulances some time ago.  They were placed on hold, with
the explanation that the vacuum flasks that they came equipped with were
potential stores for biological material.  Were these removed from the
contract, the contract would be approved.  They weren't for some time (I'm
not sure what's finally happened with these): did this reflect bureaucratic
inertia in Iraq or an active attempt to make a propaganda issue of this?  I
don't know.


Colin Rowat

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