Security Council lifts Iraq sanctions
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday in favor of a resolution that lifts sanctions against Iraq after almost 13 years and puts the United States and Great Britain in control of the country until a new government is established.
Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members approved Resolution 1483; Syria's U.N. ambassador, Mikhail Wehbe, was not present.
"The lifting of sanctions marks a momentous event for the people of Iraq," said John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "After more than a decade of being frozen out of the world economy, it is time for the Iraqi people to benefit from their natural resources."
The 12-page resolution will dismantle the oil-for-food program in six months and will lift all sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1990 except those on weapons.
Diplomats lauded the resolution as a victory for the Iraqi people, and the vote also marks a key win for the United States and Great Britain, which will retain significant control in Iraq with the backing of the international body.
Under the resolution, Iraq's oil proceeds will go into a development fund with international monitoring, but the United States and Britain would have the authority to use the money for reconstruction.
The oil money also will be temporarily immune from legal claims. U.S. officials have said they are concerned that Iraq's creditors, who say they are owed some $400 billion, might want some part of the revenue.
The resolution will be reviewed after a year, a step sought by Germany and France so that the U.S.-led power of authority would not be open-ended.
The resolution will end the effective control of the U.S.-led coalition once that authority can be turned over to an internationally recognized Iraqi government.
The time frame for the transfer has not been specified. L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, said Wednesday that an Iraqi national conference probably won't meet until July to choose an interim government.
To facilitate the creation of a new Iraqi government, the resolution creates a mandate for a special representative of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The representative will report to the Security Council.
France, Russia and Germany led the U.N. opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Representatives from the three nations praised the resolution, which shows "there is a vital role to be played by the United Nations," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, speaking in Paris, France, before the G8 summit.
"[The resolution] was a compromise, but to make it possible, all participants made steps to accommodate," said Sergey Lavrov, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations.
"In this resolution, we have left behind the divisions of the past for the sake of the people of Iraq," said Gunter Pleuger, Germany's U.N. ambassador.
"It is not in a perfect way, but it is in an appropriate way," said Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, France's U.N. ambassador. "What we have to underline today is that the council is united."
However, the Security Council has not agreed on the issue of weapons inspectors. The resolution leaves the door open to the resumption of U.N. weapons inspections, something France and the inspectors themselves support.
"The verified disarmament of Iraq remains our shared objective," de la Sabliere said. "[The resolution] preserves the role of UNMOVIC and of the IAEA."
The U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency are the two U.N. agencies in charge of seeking Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led war.
"The international inspectors alone can, in due course, reassure the international community that that objective has been attained," de la Sabliere said.
Negroponte said the council has reached "no decision" on the issue.
"One of the issues that will be taken up in the future is the mandate of UNMOVIC and the IAEA," he said.