Iraq Not Willing to Accept


By Waiel Faleh

Associated Press
November 25, 2001

Iraq won't accept any changes to the sanctions it is under when the U.N. oil-for-food program comes up for its normal six-month extension, the country's foreign minister said Sunday.

Foreign Minister Naji Sabri spoke a few days before discussions are to be held at the United Nations on the adoption of a new "smart sanctions" resolution proposed by the United States and Britain or an extension of the existing humanitarian program for another six months.

"The general feeling at the United Nations is for roll over ... that is, a normal extension or technical extension," Sabri told Associated Press Television News.

He said that if the United Nations succumbed to U.S. and British pressure and changes the sanctions regime without Iraqi approval, "this means that the other party, that is the U.N., does not want an extension of the (oil-for-food) agreement."

He said he expected Russia to support the Iraqi stance.

"The logical thing for the United Nations is to move for an improvement of the situation, not for tightening the sanctions against Iraq as is the case with the smart sanctions," said Sabri.

The smart sanctions proposed by Britain and the United States would lift most of the restrictions on trade with Iraq, but tighten enforcement of the arms embargo and block smuggling routes.

The current ninth phase of the oil-for-food program ends Nov. 30.

Iraq exports about 2.3 million barrels of oil a day under the U.N. oil-for-food program. The scheme allows Iraq to bypass U.N. sanctions imposed since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and export oil on the condition that revenues are spent on food and humanitarian goods.

The sanctions cannot be lifted until Iraq proves to the United Nations it has surrendered its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. But Iraq has barred U.N. weapons inspectors since 1998.

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