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[casi] Iraq stops oil exports for 30 days

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Hello all,
latest news on Iraq. I thought I'd let you know.

 BAGHDAD, April 8 (AFP) - Iraq stopped oil exports for 30 days
from Monday in protest at Israel's offensive against the
Palestinians, President Saddam Hussein announced in a speech to the
   Iraq's leadership decided to "completely halt oil exports as of
this afternoon, April 8, 2002, through the pipelines carrying
(crude) to the Turkish port on the Mediterranean and through our
ports in southern Iraq," Saddam said in his televised address.
   The stoppage will last "30 days, after which we will review (the
decision), or until the armies of the Zionist entity have
unconditionally withdrawn from the Palestinian territories they have
occupied and (until they) respect the will of the Palestinian people
and the Arab nation," he said.
   Saddam urged other Arab and Muslim oil producers to follow suit
and suspend crude exports.
   "Our Arab and Muslim brethren and all believers will hopefully
encourage our move ... by taking similar measures in the case of
those who have oil," he said.
   Arabs and Muslims without oil wealth should take "effective
measures" in accordance with their own means, the president added.
   The oil ministry said in a statement that oil exports stopped at
1000 GMT from Mina al-Bakr terminal on the Gulf and the Turkish
Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, the two ports through which Iraq's oil
   The price of oil promptly jumped above 27 dollars a barrel in
London before settling back.
   Benchmark Brent North Sea crude for May delivery surged to 27.35
dollars from 25.99 on Friday evening, then eased to 26.91.
   Oil prices had risen even before the Iraqi announcement, after
Israel pressed ahead with its siege of the West Bank, ignoring calls
from US President George W. Bush for a pullout from Palestinian
territories it reoccupied in the past 10 days.
   But an OPEC source in Vienna told AFP the oil cartel had no
plans to organize a collective ban on crude exports following the
Iraqi move.
   The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries "is for order
and harmony in the oil market and should not be dragged into a
political crisis in the (Middle East) region," the source said.
   In Doha, OPEC general secretary Ali Rodriguez told AFP on the
sidelines of an oil conference that he was consulting member
countries about Iraq's gesture.
   Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Islamic
oil-producing countries Friday to suspend their exports to Western
countries and those that have relations with Israel "for a symbolic
period of one month."
   Libya voiced suport for the call.
   Saddam said the decision to halt exports was taken at a joint
meeting of Iraq's ruling Revolution Command Council, Baath Party
leadership and cabinet.
   "This decision is essentially aimed against the Zionist entity
and the aggressive US policy, not against anyone else. It is not
meant to harm anyone except those who have decided to harm the Arab
nation, including the heroic Palestinian people," he said.
   Saddam accused the United States of being Israel's accomplice in
the blitz on West Bank towns.
   "The Zionist aggression in which our brothers and sisters are
being killed in front of TV cameras is being perpetrated by common
arrangement between the Zionist entity and the US administration,"
the Iraqi leader charged.
   "Its objective is not only to occupy Palestinian and Arab lands
as happened in 1948 and 1967, but also to break the Palestinians'
and Arabs' will and force them to surrender to the Zionist-American
alliance," he said.
   The office administering Iraq's oil-for-food program with the UN
said on April 2 that the volume of oil exported by Baghdad under UN
supervision surged from 6.7 million barrels to 16.5 million barrels
the previous week.
   Iraq has periodically halted exports under the UN oil-for-food
scheme in recent years, the last time on June 4, 2001, for a month
in protest at efforts to introduce "smart sanctions" against
   OPEC member Iraq has proven reserves of 112 billion barrels and
a current production capacity of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

BAGHDAD, April 8 (AFP) - Iraq stopped exporting oil at 1000 GMT
on Monday, the oil ministry said in a statement.
   Exports were halted at the Mina al-Bakr terminal on the Gulf and
the Turkish Mediterranen port of Ceyhan, the two ports through which
Iraq's oil flows.
   President Saddam Hussein announced exports would stop for 30
days as a protest against the Israeli military assault on the
   Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Islamic
oil-producing countries Friday to suspend their exports to Western
countries and those that have relations with Israel "for a symbolic
period of one month.

BAGHDAD, April 8 (AFP) - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is
vowing to fight to the last, but US military action against Baghdad
looks increasingly uncertain as Middle East violence spirals out of
   "If half your anti-air defences were to be destroyed, you would
defend with the other half and if the remaining half also came to be
destroyed, you would fight with your daggers like your brothers in
Palestine are doing," Saddam told senior military officials late
   "You are strong and your enemy is weak because you are right and
he is wrong," the Iraqi strongman charged.
   In another sign of his pugnaciousness, Saddam announced Monday
that Iraq had stopped oil exports in protest at Israel's offensive
against the Palestinians, sending world crude prices jumping in an
indication of what might happen if Washington attacked.
   US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair warned Saturday they were considering "all options" against
Iraq, which has refused to allow in UN arms inspectors since a
December 1998 US-British bombing blitz.
   Blair delivered his bluntest warning yet to Iraq a day later,
speaking of possible military action to topple the "brutal,
repressive" regime of Saddam Hussein.
   The two leaders received short shrift in the Iraqi media on
Monday, with Al-Jumhuriya daily branding them "criminals".
   "Bush, the villain, and Blair, the stupid, have attacked Iraq
with their idiotic statements to cover up their crimes in
Afghanistan and ... their isolation in Europe on Iraq, Palestine,
and Afghanistan," it said.
   Babel newspaper declared that the Israeli offensive against the
Palestinians "is part of a plot ... which starts in Palestine and
ends in Iraq."
   The daily run by Saddam's son Uday warned that "what the
Palestinians are going through can be repeated in any other Arab
   "We are keeping some surprises for enemies despite all the
precautions they may take," Babel said, underlining Baghdad's
determination to defend itself against any US-led attack.
   But the London-based The Times, citing sources close to Bush and
Blair, reported Monday that while the two leaders have agreed on a
military campaign against Iraq, no action is likely for at least a
   They sketched out a "three-phase plan" to overthrow Saddam:
"First recreating a coalition for action by convincing Iraq's
neighbours that Saddam can be ousted; then taking military action
against him and finally ensuring that a successor regime is capable
of running the country."
   Blair said Sunday there would be no precipitate action against
Iraq, but added: "We must be prepared to act where terrorism or
weapons of mass destruction threaten us."
   But the two men have seen their plans to topple Saddam thwarted
by the bloodshed from Israel's latest military offensive in
Palestinian territory, which has been strongly condemned in the Arab
world, notably by all of London and Washington's most faithful
regional allies.
   Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Sunday that military
strikes against Iraq would be a mistake and counter-productive.
   "Talk of using force today, when other means exist, is for the
least politically incorrect, and would be a mistake," Putin said.
   Fellow "axis of evil" nominee Iran also reiterated its
opposition to any US strike on neighbouring Iraq on Monday, saying
that the region "cannot bear a new war".
   "Resorting to force to change a government is against
international law, principles of democracy and morality. It is up to
the people to carry out such a change," foreign ministry spokesman
Hamid-Reza Asefi said.

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