Global Policy Forum

UN Okays Russia Call for Debate on Iraq

June 21, 2001

The United Nations on Wednesday approved a request by Russia for a public meeting on June 26 over sanctions against Iraq. But Moscow is keeping everyone guessing on whether it will support a US-British plan to revamp the sanctions or use its position on the UN Security Council to kill or delay it, as Baghdad wants.

Some Western diplomats saw the move as a way to delay the near-daily private negotiations on the plan and to let Iraqi envoys and other opponents in the Middle East state their view. But Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov, in a letter, said the council should "consider ways of improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq" and "the negative effect of the population of that country."

Russia, along with France, Britain, China and the United States are permanent council members with veto power. At issue is a British-drafted resolution that would ease sanctions on civilian imports to Iraq, continue to ban military materiel and draw up a lengthy list of goods that can be used for military and civilian purposes. Britain intends to present a revised draft resolution shortly but the issue of "dual use" goods on the list is still in dispute.

The resolution also seeks to stop smuggling, worth about $1 billion a year, and have the monies paid to a separate account rather than to Baghdad directly. But how to do this is vague. Details are left open on how Iraq's neighbors might be compensated, leaving it to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to devise a system after consulting with Jordan, Turkey and Syria.

Iraq, which says the new proposals would solidify rather than ease the sanctions, cut off world oil supplies on June 4 in protest and threatened to stop oil to its neighbors, Jordan, Turkey and Syria if they cooperated with the plan.

More Information on the Oil for Food Program
More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq
More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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