Global Policy Forum

UN Monitors Suggested for Iraq


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
October 28, 1999

United Nations - The United States and Britain suggested Thursday that, with no weapons inspectors in Iraq, UN monitors instead make sure that equipment imported for humanitarian programs wasn't being diverted to military use.

UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in December as the United States and Britain launched airstrikes, and the Iraqi government has barred them from returning. Since then no one has been able to monitor the country's weapons programs or check that materials with military applications is being used for humanitarian purposes. But there are UN monitors in Iraq to check food distribution in the government-controlled central and southern regions.

US deputy ambassador Peter Burleigh said the United States wanted to discuss with the United Nations how there could be "UN monitors on the ground in Iraq who could reassure the Security Council that the purpose of a particular export has actually been accomplished.'' The United States, and to a lesser extent Britain, have stalled on approving a number of contracts for humanitarian programs in Iraq, saying they couldn't be sure of what Iraq was doing with dual-use materials, such as chemicals for an oil field.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed concern about holding up contracts that could relieve some of the hardships Iraqi people suffer as a result of sanctions.

Both countries suggested that, if the equipment could be checked, Iraq could import more spare parts for its oil industry, as well as equipment for water, electricity and sanitation projects. Security Council members discussed the possibility of temporarily using U.N. humanitarian workers or employees of Saybolt International, a Dutch firm consulting with the United Nations on Iraq, a Western diplomat said.

Whether Iraq would accept additional UN monitors remained to be seen. In the past, Baghdad has expressed reservations over the number of UN employees overseeing the distribution of humanitarian supplies.

More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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