Global Policy Forum

British and Dutch Offer Plan to


By Paul Lewis

New York Times
April 16, 1999

United Nations -- Britain and the Netherlands proposed Thursday that the United Nations Special Commission, known as Unscom, be replaced by a new enlarged body to carry out more intrusive inspections of Iraq's suspected weapons sites.

The resolution was circulated to the Council's 15 member nations the same day that the Russian representative to the United Nations, Sergei Lavarov, boycotted a briefing of the Security Council by Richard Butler, the chief United Nations arms inspector, calling his latest report on Iraq's weapons programs "a waste of time." Thursday night, Russia further demonstrated its dissatisfaction with the way the Council is treating Baghdad by circulating its own resolution calling for the lifting of all economic sanctions on Iraq, while strengthening the United Nations inspection program somewhat.

American officials immediately dismissed the Russian move. "In the light of Iraq's demonstrated intention of keeping weapons of mass destruction, this resolution cannot be taken seriously," said the acting American epresentative to the United Nations, A. Peter Burleigh. As for the British-Dutch proposal, United States officials declined direct comment.

Unscom officials expressed dismay at the proposal, saying they doubted that the new inspection mechanism would be more effective. Under the British-Dutch plan, Unscom would be replaced by an expanded and more generously financed body called the United Nations Commission for Investigation, Inspection and Monitoring.

The proposal calls on Iraq to give the new commission "unrestricted access and provision of information" and to allow its inspection teams "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all areas, facilities, equipment, records and means of transportation which they may wish to inspect." It also seeks to improve the dire situation Iraq's people are facing after almost a decade of economic sanctions stemming from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The proposal would abolish the current $5.2 billion limit on the amount of oil Iraq can export to buy essential supplies every six months, like food and medicine. And it creates a mechanism for bringing the roughly $300 million worth of oil Iraq is believed to be smuggling out illegally each year into this United Nations-supervised oil-for-food plan. In addition, Iraq could spend one-third of the money it now pays as compensation to victims of its invasion of Kuwait on such items as food and medicine until the end of this year.

Finally it asks the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to create an expert committee to recommend ways of increasing Iraq's oil production and streamline procedures for approving essential imports. Currently Iraq cannot even produce the $5.2 billion worth of oil it is allowed to sell under the existing oil-for-food program.

Britain's United Nations representative, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said the new resolution is based on the findings of three panels set up by the Security Council to review policy towards Iraq after President Hussein expelled all United Nations arms inspectors late last year and said he would no longer cooperate with attempts to disarm his country. Sir Jeremy said that even countries like Russia, which think the Council is too harsh on Iraq, support United Nations resolutions demanding that Baghdad give up its weapons of mass destruction and accept long-term monitoring.

Russia is anxious to see sanctions eased in part because it is owed large sums of money for weapons and other goods sold to Iraq, which Baghdad cannot repay unless it is allowed to sell oil freely again. France also favors easing sanctions, partly because it has high hopes of developing lucrative commercial ties with Iraq.

But the United States and Britain are unlikely to agree to any major easing of sanctions until they are satisfied Iraq has been disarmed and has agreed to an effective monitoring program.

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq
More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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