Global Policy Forum

Saddam Steps Up Rejection of "Smart" Sanctions

Agence France Presse
May 22, 2001

President Saddam Hussein has stepped up Iraq's rejection of "smart" sanctions as the UN Security Council started to debate a US-British draft to ease a decade-old embargo and target the Iraqi leadership. "We have nothing new to say other than to inform all our brothers and our friends that we will reject the so-called smart sanctions, which are even more stupid than their predecessors," Saddam told a cabinet meeting late Monday. "We reject everything that can wound the honour, self-respect and independence of Iraq," said the president, demanding a complete lifting of sanctions imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, meanwhile, warned that Baghdad would hit back by suspending the oil-for-food programme under which Iraq exports crude under UN supervision to finance imports of humanitarian supplies. "We are going to refuse the application of the new phrase of the oil-for-food programme in the event that the United States goes through with its amendment or adds elements serving its plot," he told Arab diplomats. "The United States has resorted to a new ruse named smart sanctions after having seen the embargo begin to dissolve," charged Aziz.

At the United Nations, the first cracks appeared among permanent members of the Security Council on Monday as they began to discuss the US-British draft resolution, according to diplomats. The draft was discussed during a closed-door meeting of representatives of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The proposal calls for maintaining strict controls on sales of products to Iraq that could have military use while easing restrictions on consumer goods. It was to be presented Tuesday to all 15 members of the Security Council. US and British diplomats made clear they would prefer to move ahead quickly with their proposal in order to approve it by June 3, when the oil-for-food programme comes up for renewal.

But China, Russia and France said they did not want to impose a deadline on deliberations, particularly concerning lists of products allowed for export to Iraq, which are subject to approval by the UN sanctions committee. "We have been discussing with our partners for some time about how to go forward on Iraq," said US representative James Cunningham. "I think we will be in a position to move this week, I hope."

But Chinese envoy Shen Guofang said that "at this stage, maybe it is practical to have a technical rollover" of the oil-for-food programme which runs in six-monthly phases. The US proposals also seek to halt Iraq's oil trade outside the confines of the programme, such as with Jordan, Turkey and Syria, according to diplomats in New York.

Iraq says almost 1.5 million of its citizens have died because of the embargo and that the oil-for-food programme does not meet even the most basic needs of its 22-million population. Smart sanctions aim to prevent Iraqi rearmament after its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait, while depriving Baghdad of the opportunity to blame sanctions for the suffering of its people, according to British officials.

More Information on a Turning Point for Iraq
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