Global Policy Forum

Key Points in UN Resolution on Iraq

New York Times
December 17, 1999

United Nations - The U.N. Security Council's new landmark resolution on Iraq would restart arms inspections in Iraq and suspend trade sanctions if Baghdad complies with disarmament demands.

The sanctions were imposed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The scrapping of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are a key requirement for easing the sanctions. Arms inspectors have not been in Iraq since a bombing campaign by the United States and Britain a year ago.

Following are the main points of the resolution.

Arms Control

The new arms watchdog, called UNMOVIC, or the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, would replace the current U.N. Special Commission. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has to appoint an executive chairman of UNMOVIC subject to council approval within 30 days of adoption of the resolution.

UNMOVIC, Searching for Iraq's chemical, biological and ballistic-missile programs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), concerned with Iraq's nuclear programs, would draw up work schedules within 60 days after they begin operations. They would submit a list of key disarmament tasks to Iraq, subject to council approval.

Oil Exports

Immediately after the resolution is adopted, the cap is lifted on how much oil Iraq can sell, now set at $5.26 billion every six months under an "oil-for-food" program. But all other controls, including depositing Iraq's oil revenues into an escrow fund, would stay in place.

The council promises to consider additional Iraqi oil export routes in addition to those now used: the Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr and a pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Parts and equipment to upgrade Iraq's oil industry will also be expedited through pre-approved lists by a group of experts. A panel first must survey Iraq's oil industry and recommend improvements. The current limit of $300 million every six months can be lifted.

Annan is to recommend options for allowing oil companies to invest in Iraq. But the council will not make a decision on his proposals until sanctions are suspended.

Imports into Iraq

The resolution would immediately streamline procedures for importing foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, agricultural equipment and educational items into Iraq. A list of approved goods would be drawn up without referring each item for approval to the Security Council's sanctions committee, as at present. But suppliers would still be paid from a U.N. escrow account into which the oil revenues are deposited.

Annan is to recommend how some of the oil revenues can be used for purchases of goods produced in Iraq.

Air Travel

Iraq, under an air embargo, can fly planes in the Haj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, after notifying the Security Council.

Sanctions Suspension

Once a new arms control commission is organized and functional, sanctions could be suspended by a vote of the Security Council after UNMOVIC reports Iraq has made progress on key disarmament tasks and cooperated with inspectors during a 120-day test period. The precise level of progress or cooperation is left deliberately vague in the resolution.

Any suspension would have to be renewed every 120 days. If arms officials say Iraq is not cooperating, the suspension of the sanctions expires on the fifth day after their negative report unless the council decides otherwise.

The suspension will cover imports and exports of civilian goods. But the suspension of other sanctions, including air travel or financial transactions, has not been determined yet. Financial controls to make sure Iraq cannot import weapons will be worked out among council members over the next year.

More Information on Iraq Sanctions


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