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ARABS-UN - June 8 - Council Extends Iraq Oil, Food Program.

The UN Security Council extends for 6 months the Iraq oil-for-food program, the humanitarian lifeline for 22m Iraqis living under the 10-year-old sanctions. The 15 member body votes unanimously minutes before midnight, the last possible moment when the previous 6 month phase expired for the program that allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil - under UN supervision - to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. The resolution co-sponsored by Britain and France was delayed because of disputes between China and the US on a UN review of the humanitarian situation in Iraq. (China wants to refer to the sanctions as responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people. But Britain, the US and others kept the language as neutral as possible.) Baghdad, which recently exported an average of 2.5mb/d of crude, signals that it will accept the renewal of the program, which began in Dec. 1996. One new measure in the resolution is an expediting of equipment for water and sanitation projects. The council draws up a list of badly needed supplies that can be approved by UN officials rather than by the entire council membership. The resolution adds equipment for water and sanitation systems to the list. (The US has blocked more than US$1.5 bn in supplies to Iraq, mainly all types of equipment, while it reviews whether they could be used for military purposes.)

The resolution cuts down procedures to review and approve oil contracts Iraq submits, which now take about 20 days. It also asks Secretary-General Annan to appoint oil overseers to review the contracts without approval from council members, who have turned these posts into politically loaded disputes. It also allows Iraq to spend US$600m over the next 6 months for spare parts to upgrade its dilapidated oil industry, in line with recommendations from Annan. (Any issue dealing with Iraq breaks into political camps, with France, Russia and China sympathetic to Baghdad, and the US and Britain maintaining a relatively hard line. But negotiations this time were smoother than usual with EU members Britain and France taking the lead in seeking a compromise and then co-sponsoring the resolution. All 5 countries are permanent council members with veto power.)

Britain and the US had wanted to extend the program for one year instead of the current 6 months but France and others insisted this be dropped. They said Iraq would not accept a longer extension, as it would imply the sanctions, adopted when Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait in Aug. 1990, would stay in place for at least another year. France, in turn, had wanted Iraq to use some of the oil revenues to pay about US$10m in back dues to the UN. But US and British officials rejected this, saying that as long as Iraq was uncooperative on arms inspections, they were not granting any special diplomatic favours. (A requirement for easing sanctions is an accounting by Iraq of its dangerous weapons program. But UN arms inspectors have not been allowed back into the country since they left shortly before a US-British bombing raid in Dec. 1998.) Earlier June 8, Iraq blames UN sanctions for sharp increases in rates of cancer, birth defects, anaemia, thyroid disorders, miscarriages, hepatitis, anxiety, depression and tension among women and children. Iraq's minister for labour and social affairs Sadie Abbas tells a conference on equal rights for women: In the name of the women and children of Iraq, we appeal to you to shoulder your legal and humanitarian responsibilities and do your utmost efforts to put an end to this suffering by lifting the sanctions".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jun 10, 2000
Previous Article:ARAB-TURKISH RELATIONS - June 5 - Iraq Demands Stop To Assault.
Next Article:ARABS-UN - June 10 - Team Resumes Work On S. Lebanon Border.

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