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IRAQ - May 16 - Sanctions To Be Reviewed.

British officials, working with their US counterparts, say they are preparing to offer on May 21 a draft Security Council resolution that would eliminate most restrictions on Iraq's civilian imports while tightening controls on military goods and oil revenue. A British diplomat says: "This is a very big shift. We are effectively ending sanctions on ordinary civilian imports and replacing it with a very tightly focused control regime. If our proposals are adopted by the Security Council, Iraq will have no excuse for the suffering of the Iraqi people". (In recent months, US envoys have been meeting in Europe with British, French and Russian officials to lay the groundwork for the resolution. The US administration has sought to reach agreement on the contours of a new sanctions policy before June 4, when the UN is scheduled to decide whether to renew the oil-for-aid sanctions programme. The acting chief US delegate to the UN James Cunningham says: "We have been working on this for a long time. We hope to adopt the resolution by the end of the month".

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze said on May 17 Britain and the US have yet to win Moscow's backing for the proposal, adding: "It is clearly premature to speak of Russian support for this initiative". US and European officials expect intense negotiations among the five permanent Security Council members over the specifics of the new plan, in particular the list of items that would still be barred from Iraq. Under the proposal, Iraq would be free to import any goods not specifically designated for the council's review. Last week, after an internal Bush administration debate over which items could pose a military threat, the US and Britain agreed on a proposed list and showed it to Russia, China and France. The list would include all military imports and many "dual-use" items, such as high-powered computers and advanced telecommunications equipment that have both civilian and military applications. A British official said: "There will effectively be no sanctions on all other goods entering Iraq". US and European expect negotiations among council members about whether to allow the resumption of international investment in Iraq's oil industry, a step that could benefit French, Russian and Chinese companies. They also expect tough bargaining over whether Iraqi revenue deposited in the UN account can be used to pay off Baghdad's debts, a change favoured by Russia, which is owed several billion dollars. The draft resolution would maintain the existing escrow account into which Iraqi oil revenue was deposited and then spent on imports that meet Security Council conditions. It would also very likely allow the resumption of international commercial flights to Baghdad. The Bush administration plan would authorise Iraq to export oil through Syria under UN auspices in an effort to halt the smuggling of more than 100,000 b/d outside international control. It would also allow the UN to compensate countries neighbouring Iraq with money from the escrow account if Baghdad retaliated against them for co-operating with the import restrictions. Baghdad asked Moscow to oppose the new resolution and put its neighbours on notice that it would punish them if they supported the plan).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:May 19, 2001
Words:529
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