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World - Middle East

U.S. supports plan to suspend sanctions if Iraq disarms


June 16, 1999
Web posted at: 5:40 p.m. EDT (2140 GMT)

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United States signaled its support Wednesday for a British proposal that would eventually lead to a lifting of sanctions against Iraq if Baghdad meets specific disarmament requirements.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Peter Burleigh said Washington "was pleased" with the proposal.

"We have some problems with small parts of it but, by and large, it is something the U.S. can support," he said.

Situation in Iraq

The British draft would establish a new agency to certify that Iraq dismantles its weapons of mass destruction. This U.N. Commission on Inspection and Monitoring (UNCIM) would replace the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), but use its arms experts and resources. UNCIM would make a list of "key" remaining disarmament tasks Iraq must complete.

If Baghdad cooperated with arms inspectors for 120 days, it would be permitted to repair its oil industry and increase its oil export capacity through international investment.

If cooperation continued another four months, the U.N. Security Council could suspend sanctions on Iraqi exports, including oil, a decision that would be reconsidered every 120 days.

A system of financial controls would also be put in place to ensure Iraq did not spend any money on prohibited weapons.

The British draft would allow for a full lifting of sanctions only when Iraq has completely fulfilled its disarmament obligations.

Diplomats said it was significant that Britain as well as the United States had for the first time mentioned a partial suspension of sanctions at a time when Iraqi relations with the council were at an all time low.

Iraq expected to reject proposals

Iraq, however, is bound to reject the proposals, insisting on an upfront lifting of all the sanctions, imposed in August 1990 after Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait.

The Security Council has been deadlocked on how to resume political and disarmament ties with Baghdad since U.S. and British airstrikes on Iraq last December. Arms inspectors left on the eve of the bombing and have not been allowed to return since.

France, Russia and China have favored the suspension or lifting of sanctions, both for exports and imports, and want such a suspension to begin after a new arms inspection commission is set up and running.

"The British draft is not that clear and it is basically suggesting a procedure which would lead to deterioration of the situation further, and we cannot agree with something that would not be realistic," said Sergey Lavrov, Russia's U.N. ambassador.

It was uncertain when progress might be made in bridging the two different approaches. In the past few weeks, representatives from the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States -- have met privately to narrow their differences.

Reuters contributed to this report.

U.S. jets strike Iraq's northern 'no-fly' zone
June 2, 1999
Iraq rejects British-Dutch oil deal
May 29, 1999

United Nations Home Page
  • Security Council
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Iraqi National Congress
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