Tags: Council | Extends | Iraq's | Oil-For-Food

UN Council Extends Iraq's Oil-For-Food

Tuesday, 26 November 2002 12:00 AM

This came shortly after Hans Blix, chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, reported about his arrival Nov. 18 in Baghdad with an advance team to pave the way for the first inspectors who arrived in Baghdad Monday.

Blix said eight inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and 11 from UNMOVIC flew into Baghdad Monday and were to begin inspections Wednesday.

This means he would have to have a report to the council by Jan. 27.

He told council members any reports they may have heard about where they will be going would be "speculation" because they can "go anywhere anytime."

Blix said the Iraqis told him they "intended to provide full cooperation" yet "maintained the point until now that they simply didn't have any" weapons of mass destruction or dual use items.

He pointed out that the next big hurdle for the Iraqis to meet is Dec. 8, the deadline for declaring what they have.

Blix told the council that when asked by Baghdad if he could clarify the resolution on the declaration he begged off saying that was for the council. However, on a personal basis, Blix said he told the Iraqi leadership "that four years had passed since the last inspection and that many governments believed that weapons of mass destruction programs remained in Iraq."

He advised them to come clean and told the council, "If the Iraqi side were to state -- as it still did at our meeting -- that there were no such programs, it would need to provide convincing documentary or other evidence."

The chief U.N. weapons inspector said the "essential physical infrastructure" was now in place for the inspections and was being tested.

Asked if the inspectors were not being pressured by certain countries, particularly the United States, Blix, a 74-year-old Swedish doctor of international law, fluent in several languages, replied, "We may not be the brightest in the world, but I can tell you that we are in nobody's pocket."

After his briefing to the council, members held consultations on renewing the humanitarian program. Then they consulted with their capitals, coming back to renew it for only nine days.

The United States had been pressing to take a longer look at items on the goods review list of proscribed items, which took nearly a year to negotiate, with the intention of adding items. The list was devised to replace a system where Iraqi purchases had to be approved by a council committee in a bid to speed the flow of civilian items to Iraq.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, after the unanimous vote, told reporters, "We just adopted a resolution that implements a technical rollover of the oil-for food program until Dec. 4 instead of expiring at midnight.

"The issue that we raised before the council in the last couple of days was that there were some items particularly under the goods review list that we felt did not necessarily have a benign or purely civilian or humanitarian purpose and that we were concerned that this list be improved to address some of the kinds of items that we have seen the government of Iraq trying to import of late," he said.

"One recent item that was not on the goods review list at all were these automatic injectors for atropine chemicals which have no possible civilian use and could only be used in a chemical warfare kind of situation," said Negroponte.

"Another item that is not on the GRL is certain kinds of global positioning devices. So what we are advocating here is that there be a prompt review of the GRL to tighten it up to in sure that it is not exploited or that it is not utilized in any way by the government of Iraq to import items for military purpose under civilian guise."

Washington's envoy said some of the items in question included global positioning system "jammers, radio intercept and direction finding" equipment and "militarily significant quantities of atropine and atropine injectors."

He said Washington proposed an extension be for only 90 days, or the amount of time expected to review the list.

"We have nothing against the humanitarian program and once we have reached agreement on a modified GRL we would be prepared to see approval of the humanitarian and oil-for-food program approved on a normal basis.

Suspecting the 90-day extension was sought instead of the usual 180-day, or six-month extension, a reporter asked if might be to coincide with any U.S. plans to attack Iraq.

"A number of suggestions have been made," Negroponte replied. "At one point in consultations, 30 and 90 days" were suggested. "Really, what we are suggesting is that the review of the GRL and extension of the oil-for-food program be timed to coincide with each other, and that is why we were advocating 90 days."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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This came shortly after Hans Blix, chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, reported about his arrival Nov. 18 in Baghdad with an advance team to pave the way for the first inspectors who arrived in Baghdad Monday. Blix said...
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Tuesday, 26 November 2002 12:00 AM
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