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IRAQ - June 1 - UN Extends Oil-For-Aid Phase To July; Smart Sanctions Delayed.

The UN Security Council extends the current 9th phase of the oil-for-aid programme for a month to July 3, while Russians and other experts examine a revised list of goods that Baghdad may not import. (This is a major setback for US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who made revising the sanctions a top priority when he took office in January and called for "smart sanctions". Powell and the UK had proposed that smart sanctions should loosen curbs on trade with Baghdad while tightening controls against smuggling and illegal arms sales. The resultant US-UK plan met strong opposition in the Security Council, mainly from Russia and China. Powell's smart sanctions plan was the first major initiative in the Security Council by the Bush administration. US officials, saying their intention was to help the Iraqi people, predicted two weeks ago when Britain formally introduced the plan that it would be accepted by the Council before the next six-month, 10th renewal of the oil-sales programme, due by midnight on June 3/4. The deadline could not be met because of problems created by a long list of items that the US wanted to bar Baghdad from buying without approval. Banning sales of at least some of the items, especially in telecommunications and other technologies, is unjustified and could in fact hurt more than help the revival of Iraq's civilian economy. Council members say in any case the list, presented to them only last week, is too long and complicated to evaluate in such a short period of time. French and other diplomats predict a delay of several months. Russia is seeking to put off a decision for six months. Diplomats from other nations complain they had been waiting since January for a new US plan, only to be handed a last-minute draft that the US would not even co-sponsor formally. US officials say the outlines of the plan were known for some time and that for countries accustomed to dealing in issues of arms control, the list should be readily comprehensible. Talks on May 30 in Budapest between Powell and his counterparts from Britain, France and Russia did not narrow gaps among these four permanent Council members. China, the fifth member with veto power, was briefed on the Budapest talks. Washington may have created new problems for itself in dealing with the Iraqi impasse by trying to rush a resolution through the Security Council against predictably strong opposition from Russia and China, and reservations from the French. French diplomats say they were consulted in advance on items that could face a sales ban. Russians say they were not. Once the debate opened, states close to Baghdad introduced other proposals that they may now try to attach to a rollover of the current oil-sales programme - to Iraq's

advantage. One of these is a plan to allow Iraq to recover its civilian aircraft from several nations where they were stranded with the imposition of sanctions in 1990, followed by the 1991 Gulf war. Moreover, in discussing how to stop the smuggling of Iraqi oil outside UN supervision and end Baghdad's imposition of illegal surcharges on controlled oil sales, the Security Council members are also being forced to acknowledge openly how lax enforcement of existing sanctions has been. If smuggling is to stop, Council members agree, neighbouring Jordan, Syria and Turkey - whose oil purchases were tolerated for political reasons - will have to be compensated if Iraq cuts off oil sales rather than legitimise them as the new proposal would do. In recent weeks, Baghdad has vowed to punish neighbours who co-operate, and has begun threatening to disrupt the wider world oil market. Baghdad, which demands that all sanctions be lifted without conditions, has refused since Dec. 1999 to co-operate with a new arms inspection system, the only route to a suspension and ultimately the end of the embargo. All five leading Security Council members say, at least for the record, that the requirement to reintroduce inspectors must remain in place. That is spelled out in a separate Council resolution).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jun 2, 2001
Words:674
Previous Article:IRAN - June 1 - Meshkini Hits Khatami; Grand Ayat. Sanei Hits Back.
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