Global Policy Forum

Britain Floating Plan to Suspend Iraq Sanctions


By Nicole Winfield

Associated Press
June 16, 1999

United Nations - In a significant turnaround aimed at breaking the impasse over Iraq, Britain is now recommending that the Security Council suspend sanctions against Iraq - but only after Baghdad answers the remaining questions about its banned weapons programs. The new British position leaves the United States alone among permanent members of the Security Council in opposing the suspension or lifting of sanctions. Britain is conditioning the suspension on the creation of strict financial controls designed to prevent Iraq from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, according to a draft resolution circulated yesterday.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington thinks the British draft, cosponsored by the Netherlands, is ''the appropriate draft around which the council can begin discussion.'' But the official cautioned that there were still several issues that needed to be worked out. Russia, China, and France, Iraq's allies on the council, have also proposed that sanctions be suspended, but haven't placed the same tough restrictions as the British draft does. Western diplomats say the Russian, French, and Chinese draft resolution doesn't require as much Iraqi compliance with inspectors or carry sufficient controls on Baghdad investing in its banned weapons programs.

The British draft says sanctions would only be suspended for 120 days after Iraq completes a set of ''key remaining tasks'' regarding the destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. Inspectors from a commission, which would replace the UN Special Commission but draw heavily from its staff and resources, would prepare a list of those tasks 90 days after resuming inspections. After another four months, the chairman of the Commission on Inspection and Monitoring and the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency would report to the council on whether Iraq had answered the disarmament tasks. If Iraq has cooperated fully, and if financial controls were established, the council would suspend sanctions for 120 days. It would continue the suspension every 120 days unless inspectors report Iraq is not cooperating. As a preliminary inducement to Iraq, Britain proposes the council consider allowing foreign investment in Iraq four months after inspectors return.

The Security Council's five permanent members postponed a meeting for today until tomorrow. Formal introduction of the resolution to the full 15-member council is expected tomorrow or Friday.

Inspections ground to a halt in mid-December, when the United States and Britain launched airstrikes to punish Iraq for what they said was its failure to cooperate with weapons inspectors.

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq

More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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