Tags: U.S. | Wants | Change | Sanctions | Iraq

U.S. Wants to Change Sanctions on Iraq

Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM

On Wednesday, British officials at the United Nations briefed reporters on a plan they said had the support of the French and was developed in consultation with the United States to revamp U.N. sanctions against Baghdad to allow more truckloads of civilian goods into the country.

State Department officials say they have sent broad proposals for new sanctions to the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia. In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday, "The consultations are going on in New York and other capitals. We have gotten to more of a concrete stage in those negotiations. There are pieces of paper." At the same time, Boucher stressed there was no U.S. proposal as of yet.

The flurry of recent diplomacy takes place in the context of the tattered U.N. oil-for-food program, the principal mechanism by which the U.N. controls the flow of military exports and those that could be used for military purposes, known as dual-use items, into Saddam Hussein's regime. The program expires on June 4, a scant three weeks away, and one of the first goals of the Bush administration was to reform the oil-for-food account to allow more civilian goods to flow more easily into Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose diplomats have taken the lead in selling the plan to Arab nations and U.N. Security Council, first announced his intention to reform the sanctions in February on his first overseas trip to the Middle East.

At the time, he said the plan would rob Saddam of his argument that the international community intentionally starves his people. And as a result, it's likely that the new sanctions plan would eliminate most of the checks on dual-use items, which include water filters and crates of eggs.

As a British official in New York said Wednesday, "At the moment the basic principal underlying the export of goods to Iraq is that nothing is allowed in except those goods pre-approved by the 681 [sanctions] committee or contracts that [were] explicitly approved on a case-by-case basis by the committee. We are essentially going to change that so that everything is allowed in except a very narrow range of controlled goods."

But Powell also said he hoped to address the widespread smuggling on Iraq's borders. President Bush inherited a sanctions regime that essentially had fallen apart. Syria and Turkey had completed oil pipelines for Iraqi oil, outside the watch of U.N. inspectors, many European and Middle Eastern countries had sent humanitarian flights to Baghdad full of food, medicine and businessmen eager to renew old ties with the oil-rich state.

Edward Walker, who was Powell's assistant secretary for Near East affairs until April 30, said in an interview Monday the U.S. proposal would rely on the customs services of the front-line states to insure against smuggling. Walker called this "an enhanced border management regime" to be "managed by the states on their own borders. We would seek to have transparency so we could see there wasn't back-channel smuggling, it would not be international or U.N. inspectors."

And that's a good thing too because the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Turkey - Washington's three closest Arab allies - have publicly said they would oppose any international inspectors on their borders with Iraq. Initially, Powell hoped to unveil a more detailed sanctions proposal for the Arab Summit in Amman, Jordan, in March, but this idea was eventually scuttled when U.S. diplomats in the region were told such a plan would be rejected by virtue of the fact that it was American, Walker told United Press International Monday.

Another aspect of the plan that has greased the wheels in the United Nations is the fact that a new sanctions proposal would allow Iraq to repay its debt to other countries. Walker said: "This is under consideration in terms of generating core support. There are some countries owed substantial debt by Iraq."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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On Wednesday, British officials at the United Nations briefed reporters on a plan they said had the support of the French and was developed in consultation with the United States to revamp U.N. sanctions against Baghdad to allow more truckloads of civilian goods into the...
U.S.,Wants,Change,Sanctions,Iraq
668
2001-00-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM
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