Iraq Slams UN Ahead of Renewal of


By Farouk Choukri

Agence France Presse
June 8, 2000

Iraq lashed out Thursday at the United Nations ahead of the renewal of the oil-for-food programme, accusing the world body of perpetuating the crippling embargo and covering up the "genocide" of Iraqi people. "The renewal of the programme allows the aggressors to shun their responsibility for the genocide committed against the Iraqi people and to maintain the embargo on them," the Ath-Thawra newspaper charged.

The official mouthpiece of the ruling Baath party said renewal, due to take place at the UN Security Council later Thursday, "aims, like resolution 1284, to take us back to square one."

The resolution, adopted in December, links a suspension of sanctions in place against Iraq since it invaded Kuwait in 1990 to full cooperation with a new UN arms inspection team, UNMOVIC. "The plans and solutions proposed by the United Nations only serve the objectives of the United States, which are continued aggression against Iraq and keeping it in political and economic isolation," Ath-Thawra said.

The paper also lashed out at UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said last Friday that UNMOVIC had made a "good start". "Kofi Annan's satisfaction is completely incomprehensible, except if he is only interested in procedural details without taking into account their use to solve the problem of Iraq," it said.

"By praising UNMOVIC or calling for an improvement in the humanitarian programme, the United Nations cannot escape the impasse in which it finds itself" over Iraq, Ath-Thawra said.

It described a British proposal to introduce a yearly renewal of the programme rather than six-monthly one as proof that Washington was using the agreement "to keep the embargo in place for as long as possible."

Iraq's oil revenues during the current phase, the first since the Security Council removed the financial ceiling on exports of crude when it revamped the sanctions regime on December 17, have peaked at 8.5 billion dollars. But the paper noted that the volume of basic goods received "have not passed those of the sixth phase, which was the worst" since the programme was launched in December 1996.

Iraqi crude exports since 1996 have generated more than 25 billion dollars while the value of goods delivered to Iraq has only totalled 6.85 billion dollars, it said, because the United Nations had granted 8.6 billion dollars compensation to victims of the 1991 Gulf War.

"Do these figures reflect a desire by the United Nations to better the humanitarian situation in Iraq?" Ath-Thawra asked.

The United Nations has renewed the agreement every six months but Iraq always casts doubt over its position and has gone as far as suspending oil exports before finally accepting the renewal.

Iraqi officials warn that the agreement must not become an alternative to a full lifting of the embargo. The programme allows Baghdad to export crude to finance imports of food, medicine, other humanitarian goods and oil industry spare parts under strict UN supervision.

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