Bush Government for Tighter Control


By Sridhar Krishnaswami

November 26, 2002

Even as the United Nations is making it known to Iraq in quite plain terms the seriousness of the inspections that are beginning on Wednesday, the Bush administration is putting its foot down on the kind of imports Baghdad is allowed under the "Oil for Food'' programme.

At a time when the Security Council was looking for a six-month extension of the programme, Washington has said that it will not agree to this time-frame and is insisting that the regime of Saddam Hussein should not buy items that could be used in a war.

These include communications equipment and antidotes for nerve gas. Frustrated members of the Security Council have voted to keep the Oil for Food programme going till Dec. 4 so that it gives the United States and other members agree on the list of imports.

Some Council members have been quoted as saying that the U.S. Department of Defence is insisting that even the antibiotic Cipro, used widely to deal with anthrax, be brought into the category of banned items to Baghdad.

There is some surprise as well in New York that the United States is coming up with last-minute objections on not only the list of import items but also trying to fix the price of Iraqi oil which would then determine how much money Baghdad could spend on humanitarian purchases.

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