Global Policy Forum

Oil Spares for Iraq Just

Agence France Presse
April 26, 1999

Iraq, which frequently accuses Washington and London of blocking humanitarian contracts, has received barely four percent of the spare parts it has requested for its battered oil industry, according to UN figures released last Monday.

Under the oil-for-food scheme, Baghdad has been allowed to import 600 million dollars of spares for its beleaguered oil sector over the past 12 months. It has requested 288 million dollars worth of spares in 552 contracts, UN spokesman in Iraq George Somerwill said Monday. Some 238 million dollars in spares have been approved but only 12 million dollars' worth have arrived in the country, he said.

Iraq's oil ministry last Tuesday accused the UN sanctions committee of systematically blocking spare parts contracts. A ministry spokesman blamed the US and British representatives on the sanctions committee, which oversees the crippling UN sanctions imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

"There is definitley a delay in the delivery of oil spares to Iraq," admitted Somerwill, spokesman for the UN Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. "This is caused by the nature of the procedure. It takes a very long time for engineering parts to be designed and then shipped back to Iraq."

But he predicted a surge of catch-up imports in the next few months. Iraq had been slow submitting contracts after being authorised to do so since last May, Somerwill said. "We are aware that 12 million is a very, very small amount out of 288 million dollars."

Under the UN oil-for-food programme Iraq is allowed to sell oil worth 5.2 billion dollars every six months to pay for the import of basic goods. However the United Nations on Wednesday said it expected Iraq's revenues under the oil-for-food programme to reach only 3.4 billion dollars over the six months to May 25. In the fourth six-month phase of the programme which ended in November last year, Iraq generated revenues of 3.04 billion dollars. The scheme comes up for renewal next month but Somerwill said, "it's too early to speculate what will happen."

Baghdad, which demands the immediate lifting of all sanctions, says it is unable to export more than three billion dollars worth of oil in a six-month period, because of deteriorating infrastructure, and previously low oil prices. Since the programme came into force in December 1996 Iraq has received 9.16 million tonnes of food worth 3.1 billion dollars, and medicines worth 540 million dollars.

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq

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