Global Policy Forum

UN Keeps Sanctions on Iraq,


By Barbara Crossette

September 9, 1998

The Security Council voted unanimously today to deprive Iraq of any hope of having sanctions lifted until President Saddam Hussein resumes cooperation with United Nations arms inspectors.

"We're hopeful that the Iraqi leadership will get the message that a unanimous Council has sent them," said Peter Burleigh, the American representative. There's an urgent need for Iraq to change its policies and come back into compliance." The resolution also calls for a complete review of Iraqi relations with the United Nations, but not until the arms inspectors of the United Nations Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency are allowed to resume their work in full. The Council asked Secretary General Kofi Annan, who proposed the review, to the consternation of some members, to explain what he had in mind.

Iraq's envoy to the United Nations, Nizar Hamdoon, said Iraq would now consider any and all options in response to the freezing of future sanctions reviews. Officials expect some kind of Iraqi reaction within days, but are hesitant to predict what it might be.
China, the last holdout for some kind of olive branch to Baghdad, joined other nations this afternoon in accepting an unambiguous condemnation of Iraq and calling on Baghdad to rescind without conditions an Aug. 5 Iraqi decision to stop all intrusive arms inspections. "We hope that the Iraqi side should comprehensively implement the relevant resolutions," China's deputy representative, Shen Guofeng, said before the vote, adding that the Council should then respond promptly and positively to Iraqi compliance.

Russia also backed the resolution that suspends all future sanctions reviews, leaving Iraq without defenders. "This resolution clearly speaks for itself," Sergey Lavrov, the Russian representative, said after the vote. "I believe it clearly states that the council doesn't like the current situation." The resolution, which falls in a classification that allows the use of force, is seen by diplomats as a first step in building new pressure on Iraq after a year of Council splits on the issue and diplomatic skirmishes in which the Iraqis gained substantial footing in the United Nations through new links to the Secretary General's office.

But sympathy for Iraq seems to be in abeyance there also, since President Hussein has effectively thrown the agreement made with Mr. Annan in February back in the Secretary General's face. Mr. Annan said today that he met Iraq's Vice President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, in Durban, South Africa, last week at the summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement and told him it was essential that Iraq reverse its noncooperation policy if it ever wanted to see the end of sanctions. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's representative, expressed the slight annoyance that persists among diplomats over the need even to consider yet another review of Iraqi relations with the United Nations.

"Iraq has had plenty of opportunities to look at the road map and follow it," Sir Jeremy said. "But we have given them another opportunity. If Iraq does not take this opportunity, it is left in the doldrums under sanctions, excommunicated from the international community, because it is determined not to cooperate. That would be most unfortunate." Over the last year, Iraq has also demanded a series of independent technical reviews of its weapons programs in the hope of circumventing United Nations inspectors. But the Iraqis were found wanting in every area by the independent experts. Before sanctions imposed after the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait can be lifted, United Nations inspectors must be satisfied that all Iraq's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and the means to make them have been destroyed, along with prohibited missile systems not needed for Iraqi defense.

A senior White House official said after the vote today, "The resolution sends a crystal-clear message that the Security Council will remain united and that the sanctions will stay on in perpetuity until Saddam lets Unscom do its job." Asked whether the United States would pursue the idea of further military action if President Hussein fails to relent, the official said, "We have not ruled out any options, but we will keep our hands on his pocketbook until he changes his mind The official added, "We'll deny him what he wants most: his money."

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq

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