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CNN Today

Oil Boom in Baghdad

Aired July 6, 2000 - 2:29 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Booming oil prices may have drained you at the pump. But they are helping one place: Iraq. Iraq is still pinched by U.N. sanctions.

Here is CNN's Jane Arraf in Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brick by brick, Baghdad is undergoing a mini building boom, fueled partly by record oil sales. After years of stagnating under the world's most sweeping trade sanctions, hundreds of millions of dollars of extra revenue are poured in, as oil prices rises.

And that's just the U.N.-approved oil sales. Iraq has made it its mission to undermine the sanctions by selling millions of dollars worth of oil directly through other countries.

Iraq's oil minister says that business is booming.

GEN. AMER RASHEED, IRAQI OIL MINISTER: How far we go, it depends on the other countries, how much they can tolerate American pressure to prevent them from doing normal business with Iraq. From an Iraqi point of view, the sky is the limit.

ARRAF: The United States condemns Iraq's oil smuggling through the Gulf to Iran, but it appears to tolerate it to neighboring Turkey, where the U.S. has an air base used for attacks on Iraq.

(on camera): Iraq is allowed to sell as much oil as it can produce to buy humanitarian supplies under strict U.N. supervision. After U.N. deductions, an extra dollar in the world price of oil means more than an extra million dollars a day that Iraq can eventually spend.

(voice-over): That's partly why, in the heat of the Baghdad summer, high-level business delegations, like this one from Pakistan, still stream into the country to court Iraqi business.

USMAN AMINUDDIN, PAKISTANI OIL MINISTER: Iraq has the second largest reserves of oil in the world, so it is a very important, and it is a very major player in the oil world.

ARRAF: It's a major player with its hands tied. But even with sanctions in place, Iraq is still a major market.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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