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[casi] Blair, Bush and Hoon.

A. Britain says Iraq poses threat, must be tackled, Reuters, 28th February
B. Blair backs US over need to tackle Iraq weapons, Independent, 1st March
C. Blair backs Bush on 'evil' of Iraq, Daily Telegraph, 1st March
D. D. PM faces dissent on Iraq after supportive words for Bush's fighting
talk, Guardian, 1st March
E. The Prime Minster's Official Spokeperson's Lobby Briefing on the Bush
Phone Call, 28th February
F. There must be a limit to our support for America, Independent, 1st March
G. Hoon backs US strike on Saddam, Guardian web-site, 1st March.
H. "Smart" sanctions, voices briefing, 18th February.

First up, a Reuters report on Blair's latest pronoucements vis a vis Iraq.
Note the claim that 'that weapons of mass destruction continue to be
produced (in Iraq).' It would be interesting to know what (if any) evidence
Mr Blair has for this statement.

Second, third and fourth the story as it appears in today's Independent
(, Telegraph ( and
Guardian (

Fifth the official Lobby Briefing on the Bush phone call.

Sixth, an editorial from the Independent, opposing a military attack on
tactical grounds (as opposed to grounds of principle). No mention of
international law or the potential large scale loss of Iraqi life. This
piece also presents "smart" sanctions in a postitive light, noting that 'to
his credit, Mr Blair seems to realise that the present sanctions regime
plays into Saddam's hands.' List members will, of course, recognise this as
rubbish (for a short critique see voices' "smart" sanctions briefing also
reproduced below).

We can also read that 'The legitimacy of the aerial harassment of Iraq over
the past few years has been weakened by the fact that it has been a purely
US-British operation.' The fact that this 'aerial harrassment' (ie.
overflight and bombing) is illegal is dutifully ignored. Letters should be
e-mailed to

Seventh, an update from the Guardian reporting Defence Secretary Geoff
Hoon's comments on today's Today Programme. The latter was a classic example
of the sort of coverage Iraq tends to get in the mainstream media: the
interviewer repeatedly stated that Iraq had 'expelled' the weapons
inspectors in 1998; the manifest illegality of the proposed military action
was never raised (despite the fact that Hoon repeatedly stated that *Iraq*
was in violation of international law for not complying with UN SCR 687);
and the question as to the potential impact on ordinary Iraqis nowhere on
the horizon.

A. Britain says Iraq poses threat, must be tackled.

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Britain ratcheted up the pressure
on Iraq on Thursday, saying Saddam Hussein's government
continued to produce weapons of mass destruction which was a
serious threat that must be tackled. A spokesman for Prime
Minister Tony Blair stressed no decision had been taken by the
United States or Britain on how or when to act against Iraq, but
said dealing with the weapons threat was the "logical" next step
in the war on terrorism.

"The central issue is that weapons of mass destruction continue
to be produced (in Iraq) and that we believe there is a serious
threat. That threat has to be dealt with," he said.

Blair on Wednesday backed U.S. President George W. Bush's
leadership in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and
said it was important to tackle states which spread weapons of
mass destruction - nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Asked in an interview by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
(ABC) whether he agreed with Bush that there was an "axis of
evil" countries which included Iraq, Blair said:

"I certainly agree with him very strongly that weapons of mass
destruction represent a real threat to world stability. I think it's
important that we act against them."

Asked to elaborate on the prime minister's remarks, the
spokesman said Blair saw tackling Iraq as "part of the logical
process which has unfolded since September 11".
Iraq has refused to allow United Nations weapons inspectors in
to check its weapons capabilities since 1998.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday he was
hopeful his talks next week with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri
could help bring about the return of the inspectors after Baghdad
offered to have a dialogue "without preconditions" with the world

Blair is due to visit Washington for talks with Bush in April.

One British newspaper quoted a senior government official on
Sunday as saying the two leaders would use the talks to finalise
"Phase Two" of the war on terror, with Iraq at the top of the

The Observer also said the government was planning to publish
evidence detailing Iraq's nuclear capabilities as a pre-emptive
strike against critics of any action.

Several European leaders have been unsettled by Bush's
apparent willingness to widen his campaign but Britain, the
United States' staunchest ally since the September attacks, has
been careful to voice no criticism.

B. Blair backs US over need to tackle Iraq weapons
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
01 March 2002

Tony Blair held a telephone conversation with President George Bush
yesterday on the need to tackle Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The Prime Minister told the weekly meeting of his Cabinet yesterday he
supported American determination to act over Iraq but insisted no decisions
had been reached yet.

The Bush administration is said to be considering a range of options, from
the deployment of up to 200,000 ground troops, to covert action aimed at
securing the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

Labour MPs believe Mr Blair will endorse military action against President
Saddam's regime, even though many of them would be against it. Mr Blair's
hawkish line will be criticised in the Commons next Wednesday in a debate on
Iraq staged by Tam Dalyell. He said yesterday the Prime Minister should drop
his "warlike belligerence. Baghdad wants to talk; you cannot have a just war
until you do everything to avoid a war," he said.

Downing Street said dealing with the weapons threat was the "logical" next
step. It added: "The central issue is that weapons of mass destruction
continue to be produced [in Iraq] and that we believe there is a serious

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who held talks at Downing Street on
Monday, is to meet Naji Sabri, Iraq's Foreign Minister, next week in an
effort to persuade Iraq to accept UN weapons inspectors, who have been
barred since 1998.

C. Blair backs Bush on 'evil' of Iraq
By George Jones, Political Editor
Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 01/03/2002)

TONY BLAIR stepped up his rhetoric against Saddam Hussein yesterday, saying
Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction posed a threat to world

The Prime Minister said he agreed with the sentiment behind President Bush's
description of Iraq belonging to an "axis of evil".

"Those who are engaged in spreading weapons of mass destruction are engaged
in an evil trade and it is important that we make sure that we take action
in respect of it," he said.

Saddam's regime was deeply repressive and a real danger to the region.

It was Mr Blair's strongest support yet for Mr Bush's tough line against
Saddam and was seen as an attempt to prepare the British public for a second
phase in the war against terrorism.

Downing Street officials said the Prime Minister discussed what action was
needed during a telephone call with Mr Bush but they refused to give

His hawkish comments caused alarm among Labour MPs, many of whom are opposed
to further military action against Iraq.

Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow, accused him of "warmongering". In an
attempt to force clarification of Government policy, he will initiate a
Commons debate next Wednesday on possible military action against Iraq.

Lord Robertson, the Nato secretary-general, warned Saddam to expect a tough
response if he allowed Osama bin Laden or al-Qa'eda terrorists to shelter in

D. PM faces dissent on Iraq after supportive words for Bush's fighting talk

Michael White, political editor
Friday March 1, 2002
The Guardian

Tony Blair yesterday stepped up diplomatic pressure on Iraq over its covert
weapons amid concern among Labour MPs that Britain will back a US led attack
on Saddam Hussein that may backfire on the global anti-terrorist coalition.
Though Downing Street stressed that "no decision has been taken" on possible
action against Iraq the coincidence of his latest telephone conversation
with President George W Bush and a combative TV interview alarmed some MPs.

With the Saudi peace initiative, backed by Jordan and Egypt, giving both
sides of the issue hope that there may be a breakthrough in the stalemate
between Israel and Palestine, MPs do not want an ill-considered attack to
crack the September 11 coalition wide open.

Predictions that a decision to support a US decision to take military action
to overthrow Saddam will split the Labour benches at Westminster are
disputed by government whips and party loyalists.

"It will be confined to the usual suspects," said one MP yesterday, a
reference to the 20 or 30 backbenchers who have challenged Mr Blair's
approach to peace-making which has seen Britain involved in military action
from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone via the Balkans since 1997.

Labour's former shadow foreign secretary, Gerald Kaufman, claimed that the
majority of MPs would back a pragmatic judgment "provided any action taken
does not break up the September 11 coalition and we do not get drawn into a
Vietnam situation from which we cannot withdraw."

But critics dispute that analysis. "There is a feeling of unease that is
wider than usual," said Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West. Tam Dalyell,
father of the Commons, and an MP for 40 years, said: "There are unlikely
people who are worried."

Both sides agree that ministers will have to make a persuasive case
justifying military action, either on the grounds of unproven links with the
al- Qaida network or new proof that Iraq is producing weapons of mass
destruction. Mr Blair has been expressing such fears since before September

Critics point to 85 Labour MPs who expressed doubts in a recent straw poll.
Others believe that Iraq's non-compliance with existing UN resolutions
provides justification and that most MPs would rally round.

Mr Dalyell and his allies, MPs like Alice Mahon, George Galloway and Alan
Simpson, will get a chance to test the water next Wednesday because Speaker
Martin yesterday granted the MP an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall -
where the foreign office will have to explain its thinking on military

Ahead of this weekend's Commonwealth conference in Brisbane, Mr Blair was
asked by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation whether he agreed with Mr
Bush's talk of "axis of evil" countries Iraq, Iran and North Korea - though
the president modified his language in Asia last week.

"I certainly agree with him very strongly that weapons of mass destruction
represent a real threat to world stability. I think it's important that we
act against them," Mr Blair replied.

Mr Blair discussed how to respond to the of weapons of mass destruction in a
telephone call with Mr Bush yesterday.



The PMOS advised journalists that the Prime Minister was likely to speak to
President Bush before departing for CHOGM today. Asked whether the Prime
Minister had spoken to President Bush about military action against Iraq,
the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had underlined in his interview
last night and as he had said again at Cabinet this morning, no decisions
had been taken at this stage. However, there was clearly an issue about
weapons of mass destruction.

As we had said on a number of previous occasions, Iraq's relationship to
terrorism and its weapons of mass destruction were both issues which had to
be addressed. How that might be done was part of the continuing
conversations we were having with our allies, including the US.

Asked why we were perceiving the threat from Saddam to be greater now than
it had been last August for example, the PMOS said that no one was
calibrating the degree of threat. As we had said consistently, there was an
issue which had to be dealt with. It was pointless to stick our heads in the
sand and pretend it did not exist. It did and we considered it to be a very
serious matter. The question was how to deal with it most effectively - and
it was that which formed part of the continuing conversations we were having
with our allies.

Put to him that the public deserved to know what the discussions were about
if the Prime Minister was talking about the issue in interviews, the PMOS
observed that journalists appeared to be falling into the trap of wanting to
know what decisions had been taken before the discussions had concluded.

Asked whether Saddam's continuing refusal to let weapons inspectors into
Iraq remained the 'central issue', the PMOS said that it certainly formed
part of the issue. The central issue was that weapons of mass destruction
were continuing to be produced. Consequently we believed there was a serious
threat and it was that which had to be dealt with. The key question was how.
In the same way the coalition had been consulted about Afghanistan, there
was a continuing conversation amongst the allies relating to Iraq. People
should give those discussions the time and space to take place.

Asked what options were under discussion, the PMOS said that the
conversation was ongoing and it would not be helpful to get into detail at
this stage. We had no intention of giving a running commentary on what might
or might not be discussed. Put to him that we had publicly moved the issue
of Iraq higher up on our agenda in recent days but yet had nothing to show
for it, the PMOS said that it was unfair to suggest that we hadn't talked
about Iraq in the past. We had. We were making the point that there was
issue here which had to be addressed.

Following September 11, we had said consistently that our priority was to
deal with Afghanistan. We were not saying that the problems there were over.
Clearly they were not. However, following the action we had taken, we now
had more time and space to move on to address the other issues which we had
identified at that time. That was what we were doing.

Asked what had prompted the Prime Minister suddenly to 'run the flag up' on
this issue, the PMOS pointed out that the Prime Minister had been responding
to a question about Iraq put to him by the ABC interviewer yesterday.

Asked why the Prime Minister would be speaking to President Bush today, the
PMOS said that the Prime Minister and President had been keeping in regular
contact, as you would expect. He believed it to be important to speak to
President Bush before departing for CHOGM.

Asked if it was a routine phonecall, the PMOS said that he didn't think a
phonecall with the President of the United States could be described as
'routine'. As with most of their conversations, they would discuss a wide
range of issues.

Asked the last time they had spoken, the PMOS said several weeks ago. They
spoke on average around once every two weeks or so.

Put to him there was a growing suspicion that Iraq had been doing something
which had prompted this sudden surge of activity amongst the allies, the
PMOS said he wouldn't characterise it like that. It was part of the logical
process that had been unfolding since September 11. The attacks on the US
had sharpened people's focus and made them realise that there were a number
of issues which needed to be addressed, including the continuing threat of
weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism.

Asked if things were 'coming to a head' over Iraq, the PMOS said he was
deliberately avoiding such language. It was a question of following through
the agenda that had been set after September 11.

Asked if he would accept that expectation was building that something was
going to happen imminently, the PMOS reminded journalists that they had
tried to predict what action would be taken and when following September 11.
As the Prime Minister had said last night in praising President Bush, he and
we had addressed the issues in a calm and measured way and would continue to
do so. Put to him that military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan
had been launched quite quickly, the PMOS pointed out that it had actually
taken four weeks or so.

Asked if we were talking about a similar timescale for Iraq, the PMOS said
this was a different issue and therefore a different timescale. Each issue
which needed to be addressed would go at its own pace. He cautioned
journalists against jumping to any conclusions about possible timescales
based on events in Afghanistan. He underlined again that no decisions had
been taken at this stage in any event.

F. There must be a limit to our support for America
01 March 2002

Blair backs US over need to tackle Iraq weapons

Decisions on the next phase of the unwisely named war against terrorism are
creeping closer, and most of the signs are that George Bush will get them
wrong. After he used his State of the Union address to identify the equally
unwisely named axis of evil, the pressing question is: what is to be done
about Iraq?

That something ought to be done about Iraq should not be in doubt. The
question is whether the US is going to act against its enemies in a way that
creates even more enemies. The next question is whether Britain is going to
support whatever President Bush does regardless.

Saddam Hussein is still a threat to his neighbours and – potentially – to
the US and its allies. Even if the direct risk to the West from his proven
wish to acquire weapons of mass destruction is small, the international
community has a responsibility to act.

As Mr Blair accepted yesterday, there is no any evidence linking Iraq with
the terrorist attacks of 11 September. The country must be treated as a
problem in its own right, and the issues remain much the same as they were
before September last year. The main one is that of sanctions. To his
credit, Mr Blair seems to realise that the present sanctions regime plays
into Saddam's hands, allowing him to present the Iraqi people as victims of
brutal US imperialism. The British attempt at the United Nations last year
to lift sanctions on food and most trade foundered on objections by the
Russians to the definition of dual-use technology. But it is right to pursue
a collective approach, through the UN where possible. The legitimacy of the
aerial harassment of Iraq over the past few years has been weakened by the
fact that it has been a purely US-British operation.

The next phase of the campaign against various forms of international
terrorism ought to be conducted through diplomacy, renewing the global
coalition – about which Mr Bush seems to have forgotten already – and
working for treaties to restrain the proliferation of nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons. Instead, the President seems determined to pursue the
short-sighted and negative policy of asserting US might, which will provoke
resentment and breed more terrorism. Mr Blair should not be seduced by the
collaborationist argument that he will have greater influence over US policy
if he expresses doubts in private. He should say, loud and clear, that US
policy is in danger of becoming counterproductive.

G. Hoon backs US strike on Saddam

Julian Glover
Friday March 1, 2002
Guardian web-site, 11am update

Britain would be prepared to support US military strikes on Iraq in the
"right conditions", the defence secretary Geoff Hoon said today.
His remarks come amid signs that the administration in Washington is
preparing to extend its war against international terrorism to Iraq - a move
that is opposed by a majority of Labour backbenchers.

Mr Hoon insisted that no decisions had yet been taken on military action
against the Baghdad regime of Saddam Hussein. But he told the BBC: "I am
confident that if the right conditions were set out that we would support
the United States."

Mr Hoon made clear that Britain's concerns about Iraq centred on its
attempts to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, rather than as
a sponsor of terrorist organisations like Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida

He said that Iraq could do much to lift the threat of attack if it agreed to
the return of UN weapons inspectors.

"Absolutely no decisions have been taken about any prospect of an attack.
What is important to recognise is that there is a range of different
responses for dealing with Iraq," Mr Hoon said.

"We have followed a diplomatic-political approach which we continue to try.
Nevertheless, ultimately it is something that we would have to recognise if
Iraq continued to provide that kind of threat.

"They have consistently refused to allow UN weapons inspections and that
must mean we are deeply suspicious about is what is going on. They are a
concern that we have to address," he added.

H. The “Smart” Sanctions Proposal
18th February 2002
A voices in the wilderness uk briefing

In February 2001 in ‘an effort to rescue [a] sanctions policy that was
collapsing’ (US Secretary of State, Colin Powell) the US and Britain
launched a major propaganda campaign to try and undercut the growing
international pressure to have economic sanctions against Iraq lifted.
Central to this ongoing initiative is an attempt to repackage the embargo as
“smart” sanctions.
    Though widely spun as an ‘end to sanctions’, according to former UN
Humanitarian Co-ordinator Hans von Sponeck ‘all the pillars of the existing
sanctions policy seem to remain’ under “smart” sanctions. Furthermore, if
adopted “smart” sanctions would actually strengthen economic sanctions in
certain important respects.

    “Smart” sanctions would relax the existing restrictions on civilian
imports into Iraq (see 3 below). This might lead to a greater flow of goods
into Iraq. However the net effect of this would simply be to reduce the
extent to which the US and British governments currently obstruct the
humanitarian programme (‘oil-for-food’). The cynicism of this should be
apparent: if they wanted to the US and Britain could terminate this
obstruction tomorrow.
    More importantly “smart” sanctions would fail the Iraqi people because
they don’t address the fundamental causes of the humanitarian crisis. This
is because the crisis is not caused primarily by the lack of civilian
consumer goods or medicines or food. Rather, the fundamental causes are: (a)
the massive deterioration of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure over the last
eleven and a half years; and (b) the collapsed state of Iraq’s economy.
    “Smart” sanctions would continue to block the reconstruction of Iraq’s
infrastructure and prevent the revival of its economy. They would retain the
basic framework of the humanitarian programme - long recognised to be
fundamentally inadequate - and ignore several important recommendations of
the March ‘99 UN Humanitarian Panel.
    We take these points in turn.

Blocking Reconstruction.
According to the current UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, Tun Myat,
‘the overall well-being of the people [of Iraq]’ will not improve unless
‘the basics - housing, electricity, water and sanitation - [are] restored.’
Indeed ‘the biggest killer of children [today] is not lack of food or
medicine but of water and sanitation.’ The Economist Intelligence Unit
estimates the cost of reconstructing Iraq’s essential infrastructure at
$50 - 100 billion. By comparison, humanitarian revenues for the last
six-month phase of oil-for-food amounted to a mere $3.85 billion.
    ‘To recover from its 11 years under the sanctions battering-ram - which
has crushed the country’s industrial and agricultural infrastructure - Iraq
needs the freedom, and overseas investment, of a huge reconstruction effort.
’ (Economist, 24 Feb. 2001).
Yet, the Economist observes, ‘although [it] would be able to import more’
under “smart” sanctions ‘[Iraq] would still be denied the free movement of
labour and capital that it desperately needs if it is at last to start
picking itself up. Iraq needs massive investment to rebuild its industry,
its power grids and its schools, and needs cash in hand to pay its
engineers, doctors and teachers [but] none of this looks likely to happen
under smart sanctions.’ (26 May 2001).

Preventing Economic Revival.
The absence of normal economic activity ‘has given rise to the spread of
deep-seated poverty’ in Iraq (UN Secretary-General’s Report, November 2000)
and without a functioning economy ‘it [i]s not realistic to significantly
improve the [humanitarian] situation’(Tun Myat).
    Iraqi families need purchasing power in order to buy the goods that are
in the shops. Purchasing power in turn comes from jobs (Hans von Sponeck has
estimated unemployment at over 50 per cent) and from being paid in money
that has some value (the value of the Iraqi dinar is now less than 0.1% of
its 1990 value).
    Jobs and the appreciation of the dinar depend upon the revival of Iraq’s
economy which in turn depends on foreign investment, free civilian trade
(import and export) across Iraq’s borders and the investment of Iraq’s oil
revenues in the economy.  All of these would remain prohibited under “smart”
    In March ’99 the UN’s Humanitarian Panel concluded that the humanitarian
situation would ‘continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained
revival of the Iraqi economy.’ Yet, according to the Financial Times’
“smart” sanctions ‘will not revive Iraq’s devastated economy while control
over Iraq’s oil revenues remains in the hands of the UN, and foreign
investment and credits are still prohibited.’ (28 May 2001)

Retaining the Framework.
“Smart” sanctions would retain the basic framework of the oil-for-food
programme: a highly centralised system of procurement and distribution under
which the vast majority of the population is totally dependent upon a
monthly food ration provided by the Government.
    As one officer with a high-profile aid agency explained to the FT
“smart” sanctions ‘won’t improve life for the ordinary Iraqi. It will
[continue to] be a dole, a handout to Iraq as a whole ... It will do nothing
to tackle the real issue - how to stimulate the internal economy and allow
civil society to come back.’ (FT, 1 June 2001)

Ignoring the Panel
Three years ago the UN Humanitarian Panel recommended letting the Iraqi
Government use oil-for-food monies to purchase locally produced food for the
food ration, reducing the proportion of revenues currently diverted for ‘war
reparations’ and permitting private foreign investment in Iraq’s
non-military export industries. These recommendations - which the Panel said
might lead to ‘incremental improvements’ - are absent from “smart”

Although “smart” sanctions don’t address the fundamental causes of the
humanitarian crisis it is still important to understand in what ways they
would modify the existing framework. In order to do this we first need to
say something about this framework.

a) ‘Oil-for-food’
Since late 1996, Iraq has been able to import humanitarian goods through a
UN-controlled programme usually known as ‘oil-for-food.’ (Don’t be misled by
this name: today Iraq is permitted to purchase goods across a wide range of
sectors, not just food and medicine). The programme allows Iraq to sell oil
legally, and to use 72% the proceeds to buy approved goods (the remaining
28% goes to pay ‘war reparations’ and UN expenses).
Under oil-for-food (which runs in six-month-long Phases) Iraq ships oil out
to foreign buyers and the foreign exchange earned by selling the oil is
deposited in a UN-controlled bank account in New York.
    Iraq can only use oil-for-food revenues to buy commodities. In
particular it is not permitted to invest these revenues in the economy or
use them to pay wages for its public servants such as doctors and engineers.

b) The Sanctions Committee
Until March 2000 all contracts for goods purchased under ‘oil-for-food’ had
to be sent for approval to a body set up by the Security Council known as
the ‘Sanctions Committee.’ The Committee, which consists of representatives
of the 15 members of the Security Council, is able to block or delay any
contract submitted to it by placing it ‘on hold.’
    The US and Britain - who have been responsible for 98% of such ‘holds’ -
have come under heavy fire for their behaviour on the Committee. According
to the UN Secretary-General these holds have been a ‘major factor’ impeding
the implementation of oil-for-food. There are currently more than $5.2
billion worth of goods ‘on hold’ - a rise of more than $1.5 billion since
the first “smart” sanctions resolution was circulated in May 2001.

c) The Green Lists
Since March 2000 the Security Council has adopted several lists of
pre-approved items which are no longer required to be submitted to the UN
Sanctions Committee for approval. These so-called ‘Green’ lists now cover a
wide range of goods across a number of sectors. Goods not on these lists
must be submitted to the Sanctions Committee as before.

The British Government has circulated several draft UN resolutions outlining
its proposals. The following account is based on the last available draft
(20 June ’01). Its main provisions can be divided into two categories: those
which relax sanctions and those which would strengthen it.

Relaxing Sanctions.
1. The ‘Amber’ List
“Smart” sanctions would replace the current system of ‘Green’ lists with a
single ‘Amber’ list (think traffic lights!) of ‘dual use’ goods. Contracts
for goods on the ‘Amber’ list would need approval from the Sanctions
Committee. All other goods would be approved automatically (as currently
happens with goods on the ‘Green’ lists).
    Note that the ‘Amber’ list is not a list of ‘banned’ goods. It is a list
of potentially suspect goods - contracts for which will be approved or
denied on a case-by-case basis.
    The Security Council has agreed a provisional ‘Amber’ list, to be
adopted (subject to further modifications) at the end of May, comprising:

(A) an existing UN agency list of goods that could be used for nuclear,
biological or chemical weapons, or long range missiles (the so-called ‘1051’
(B) a second list of ‘dual-use’ goods from the 1996 ‘Wassenaar Arrangement’
(which evolved out of a Cold War export control system); and
(C)  a new US-drafted ‘Goods Review List’ - eight pages long - of assorted

As things stand it is difficult to assess what the impact of the adoption of
such a list will be on the volume of goods placed ‘on hold’ by the Sanctions
Committee. (B) and (C) contain items (eg. ‘optical fibre cables of more than
5 meters in length’) with no direct relation to Iraq’s proscribed weapons.
There is also potential for increased disputes over what is and isn’t
covered under the new ‘Amber’ list (In late 2001
$430 million worth of contracts were in limbo pending the resolution of a
disagreement between UN Security Council members and UN technical experts as
to whether or not these items fell into category (A) above).
    More importantly however, even if the adoption of an ‘amber’ list led to
the lifting of all ‘holds’ this would not end the humanitarian crisis. It
would merely remove one of the ways in which the US and British governments
currently obstruct the implementation of the humanitarian programme - a
programme which is itself grossly inadequate.

2. ‘Provision of services’.
The June 2001 draft ‘expresses [the Security Council’s] intention to permit
the provision of services in civil sectors, other than financial services,
to Iraq’, the details to be elaborated by the UN Secretary-General and
submitted to the Security Council for its approval. The impact of this
provision is unclear, though it is clearly limited in scope.

Strengthening Sanctions.
1. Tightening Border Controls.
“Smart” sanctions would attempt to tighten border controls around Iraq,
creating new UN monitoring stations.
    Iraq has threatened to stop trading with any neighbouring country that
co-operates with “smart” sanctions. “Smart” sanctions provides an incentive
to these countries to co-operate: oil-for-food monies currently allocated
for UN expenses would be available for payments to neighbouring states for
‘enhancing border monitoring.’

2. Choking Off Foreign Exchange
“Smart” sanctions would also attempt to strengthen the existing sanctions
regime by choking off Iraq’s access to foreign exchange. (Recall that Iraq
receives no cash under oil-for-food, only commodities.)
    At present Iraq has only two sources of foreign exchange: smuggling and
illegal surcharges on oil sales. We look at these in turn before examining
the potential humanitarian repercussions of such a move.

2(a) Smuggling.
“Smart” sanctions would attempt to bring all Iraq’s trade transactions with
neighbouring countries into the oil-for-food deal, channelling all oil
revenues through UN-controlled ‘national’ bank accounts. (Iraq is currently
engaged in trade outside UN control with Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and Gulf
So Syria, for example, would be supposed to buy Iraqi oil by placing funds
in a special  ‘national’ UN account and Iraq could then use the funds in
that account to buy approved civilian goods, but only from Syria.  (The 20
June draft also allows barter of goods, so that Iraq could ‘sell’ oil and
receive acceptable civilian commodities, without having to go through a UN
escrow account.)

2(b) Illegal surcharges.
Since late 2000 Iraq has been charging oil brokers a lower price on oil
bought through oil-for-food - and demanding under-the-counter payments or
‘surcharges’ for each barrel of oil, with the money going directly to the
Iraqi Government. Under “smart” sanctions only approved oil brokers (who
will not pay the surcharge) would be allowed to buy oil under oil-for-food.

2(c) The humanitarian impact.
Lack of access to foreign exchange could have devastating consequences for
ordinary Iraqis: illegal revenues are the Iraqi Government’s only external
source of cash and it is not permitted to use oil-for-food revenues to pay
its doctors and teachers, or to pay to distribute and install the goods it
purchases under the programme.
    In a joint statement, former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinators for Iraq,
Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, condemned the fact that  “smart”
sanctions would actually reduce Iraqi access to foreign exchange: This ‘will
deepen, not lessen the suffering of the Iraqi people’. (Statement, 29 May

Note that the “smart” sanctions proposed by the US and Britain are not
targeted sanctions such as those recently threatened against Zimbabwe.
Genuinely smart sanctions would target the leadership. “Smart” sanctions are
still comprehensive (untargeted) economic sanctions, damaging the entire
economy and creating mass poverty.

The US and Britain first attempted to get their “smart” sanctions proposal
adopted at the UN at the end of Phase IX (1 June 2001). This failed and the
humanitarian programme was extended on an ad hoc basis for a single month in
an attempt to hammer out a consensus. This second attempt failed after
Russia hinted that it would use its veto if the matter was put to a vote.
    A breakthrough of sorts occurred at the end of Phase X (29th November
2002) with the adoption of UN Resolution 1382. This committed the Security
Council to adopt an ‘Amber’ list at the end of Phase XI on 30 May 2002.
Whether or not the US/UK will also try and get any of the other “smart”
sanctions provisions adopted at this juncture - or whether these have simply
been allowed to fall by the wayside - remains unclear at present.

The British Government claims that under “smart” sanctions ‘Iraq will be
free to meet all of its civilian needs without impediment.’ In reality the
US-British proposals would do little to alleviate suffering in Iraq.
    In order to reconstruct its public health infrastructure (sewage
treatment, water pumping/distribution systems, electricity, sanitation, the
national health service, and so on), Iraq needs massive investment from
outside, and the rehabilitation and development of its oil industry. None of
this will be permitted under “smart” sanctions.
    Similarly, by retaining the current ‘oil-for-food’ framework “smart”
sanctions  will prevent the ‘sustained revival of the Iraqi economy’ that is
a necessary pre-condition for the end of the humanitarian crisis.
   This double failure was reflected in the Economist’s assessment that
“smart” sanctions offered ‘an aspirin where surgery is called for.’
    At bottom “smart” sanctions are simply ‘an attempt to make sanctions
appear smarter and more presentable’ (Neil Partrick of the Royal United
Services Institute) not an attempt to end the humanitarian crisis.

voices in the wilderness uk, 16B Cherwell St, Oxford OX4 1BG
Phone 0845 458 2564   Email

voices uk breaks UN/US/UK sanctions by delivering medical supplies
to sick children in Iraq without export licences.

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