Global Policy Forum

Iraq Rules Out New Monitoring


By Elizabeth Olson

New York Times
November 4, 1999

Geneva, Switzerland - Iraq's foreign minister said Wednesday that his government would reject any U.N. move to suspend economic sanctions in return for Iraq's cooperation with a new weapons-monitoring program.

"They are saying they might suspend sanctions but Iraq has to accept a long list of new conditions," the minister, Muhammad Said al-Sahaf, told reporters. "No Iraqi would accept that." Iraq insists that sanctions be completely lifted, not suspended, Sahaf said. France, Russia and China have submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council calling for the suspension of sanctions if Iraq accepts a new commission to monitor its weapons programs.

Earlier Security Council resolutions "say clearly that sanctions are to be lifted," he said. "Now they want to rewrite the resolutions for their own purposes." He also denied that Iraq had any forbidden weapons, declaring that it had met its obligations under U.N. resolutions that call for eliminating biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. "Nothing in Iraq has anything to do with prohibited weapons," he said.

The 15-member Security Council is trying to decide how Iraq must account for its weapons of mass destruction to secure the end of the sanctions imposed on the country after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in January 1990. Intensive negotiations have been going on among the five permanent Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China -- on whether to reconstitute an arms-inspection commission as a step towards easing sanctions.

The U.N. inspection program in Iraq was suspended last December. A short time later, the United States and Britain began a bombing campaign against Iraq for its refusal to cooperate with international inspectors. "The monitoring system was there since 1994," Sahaf said. "Then they came and bombarded it. They destroyed the system they built."

The United States and Britain had also been pressing for the dismissal of the U.N. relief coordinator in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck of Germany, although Secretary-General Kofi Annan decided this week to reappoint him. They have criticized Sponeck, who oversees programs that allow Iraq to sell oil to buy food and medicine as exceptions to the sanctions, on grounds that he has allowed Iraqi officials to stockpile these goods.

More Information on Iraq Sanctions

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