Kuwait rejects Iraqi charge of stealing oil
Kuwait has rejected an accusation by former occupier Iraq that it was trying to steal oil from jointly owned deposits inside a UN-monitored demilitarized zone on the border, KUNA reported Thursday October 4.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah "refuted" Baghdad's charge in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the state news agency said. Sheikh Sabah said Iraq was making the unfounded charge in an attempt to wriggle out of its obligations under relevant UN resolutions, "thereby threatening regional security and stability.
"Any activity by Kuwait to exploit and develop its natural resources on any part of its territory within its internationally recognized borders is done in keeping with Kuwaiti sovereignty," he said. In a letter to Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa on September 20, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri accused Kuwait of "pumping disproportionate amounts of oil from the Ratka oilfield" on the border between the two countries.
"This conduct is contrary to international agreements on the exploitation of border oilfields," Sabri said, adding that Iraq reserved "the legitimate right to claim compensation for its losses. "Sabri urged Kuwait to stop British and US firms contracted since 1993 to run the emirate's Rumaila-South and Zubeir fields from pursuing the "intensive activities they have undertaken in the two border zones since 1995."
Iraq regularly accuses Kuwait of pumping oil from the demilitarized zone set up by the United Nations after the 1991 Gulf War that evicted Iraqi occupation forces, a charge the emirate categorically denies. Iraqi forces occupied Kuwait for seven months between 1990 and 1991 before their ouster by a US-led international coalition.
In his letter to Annan, Sheikh Sabah recalled that Iraq had similarly accused Kuwait in July 1990 of stealing $2.4 billion worth of Iraqi oil, using the allegation as a pretext to invade the emirate the following month.
Kuwait's chief diplomat also disputed his Iraqi counterpart's contention that Baghdad was unable to exploit border oilfields because of the UN embargo imposed on it since the 1990 invasion, saying "large-scale oil activities" on the Iraqi side of the frontier had been confirmed by the UN.
A UN oil-for-food program launched in 1996 allows Baghdad to export crude to pay for imports of humanitarian supplies, war reparations and UN operations in Iraq. Sheikh Sabah urged Annan to "ask Iraq to cease its aggressive and provocative practices, which pose a grave threat to Kuwait's security and stability," KUNA said. — (AFP, Kuwait City)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)