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IRAQ - May 9 - UN P5 Agree Sanctions Change.

A report in The IHT says: "The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have agreed to a fresh effort to slow the flow of military equipment to Saddam Hussein's government while easing the delivery of civilian goods to Iraq's isolated population. Joint sponsorship of the resolution represents the culmination of months of US diplomatic manoeuvring that came together in recent weeks when the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, dropped his objections. UN diplomats said the measure would win the backing of the 15-member Security Council, perhaps as early as Thursday [May 16]... Under the measure, contracts for thousands of items from fiber optic cable to reinforced trucks would be subject to UN review for their potential use in Iraq's weapons development programs and armed forces. Nonmilitary items will be cleared for delivery to Iraq faster than in the past". Diplomats and foreign policy specialists say the sanctions change can become a useful public relations tool for the US team as it seeks to build support around the world for an expected military campaign to oust Saddam. The report quotes the former US diplomat at the Near East Institute in Washington David Mack as saying: "It [sanctions change] deals with the psychological warfare that the Baghdad regime has mounted over the years, trying to blame the UN sanctions and the United States for humanitarian problems inside the country. It also improves relationships between the United States and other coalition partners". US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "If the Iraqi regime continues to subvert the oil-for-food programme, the world will have another clear demonstration of the threat the regime poses to the Iraqi people. It makes clear that the restrictions and lack of distribution of civilian goods inside Iraq is not due to any outside controls, but rather to the behaviour of the Iraqi regime". (The US administration began pressing for such a sanctions change within weeks of taking office in 2001. Bush referred to the sanctions, first enacted following Baghdad's invasion of Kuwait, as "Swiss cheese". Fourteen of the 15 members of the Security Council agreed in principle to the programme by summer 2001, but Russia balked. Kremlin officials suspected that the US-led move was simply designed to perpetuate sanctions. Also, Russian companies continue to do significant business with Iraq, and Moscow has enjoyed close ties with Saddam. By in late-2001, Moscow committed to a new sanctions regime, but negotiated specifics for months.

On May 10, a report in The FT said: "Russia may benefit from UN vote on Iraq... Last month the US promised Moscow it would release $750m of the Russian contracts Washington had delayed, helping to win Russia's agreement for revision of the [humanitarian] programme". Raad Alkadiri, analyst at the Petroleum Finance Company, said: "The whole battle over smart sanctions since last summer has amounted to a battle over Russia's pocket. Iraq has made sure Russia gets the lion's share of the contracts". Baghdad owes Russia $8 bn in debts incurred before the Gulf war and has used its humanitarian imports and oil reserves - the world's second largest - as a lure, promising Moscow lucrative oil investment deals, which would come to fruition after sanctions are lifted. The FT report added: "But Russia is not the only country that will win from the deal. France, China, Egypt and Jordan also have large numbers of delayed contracts, most of which will be reviewed under the new system after France insisted the US re-circulate nearly all the blocked contracts once the new procedure is in place. Still, analysts and Security Council diplomats... point out that the new-found unity among the permanent five council members does not extend much further than the resolution at hand. Russia, with most other members of the Security Council, remains vehemently opposed to the US policy of changing the regime in Baghdad. By easing the system under which humanitarian contracts are approved for imports into Iraq, the US hopes to win at least one battle in the fight over Iraq policy". One senior diplomat said: "This is all about the propaganda war of who is to blame for the humanitarian problems in Iraq. Everything in the resolution aims to shift the blame [from Washington to Baghdad]". Alkadiri said: "What this does is potentially provide the US another arrow in its political quiver as it tries to seek international support for its regime-change policy").
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 11, 2002
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