Iraq Keeps up Attacks on UN Program before Resuming Oil Exports
Iraq on Sunday kept up criticism of a UN oil-for-food program ahead of its expected resumption of oil exports which have been suspended since December 1.
"The oil-for-food program has failed to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, a full 1,457 days after its launch," said the ruling Baath party's daily, Ath-Thawra.
It accused the US and British governments of "exploiting, through all means, this program for political ends that are hostile to Iraq".
On Saturday, the Iraqi leadership hinted that it would resume crude exports under the program, while criticizing the UN Security Council's renewal of the four-year-old deal.
A joint meeting of the decision-making Revolutionary Command Council and Baath party, chaired by President Saddam Hussein, said the program was no substitute for a lifting of the decade-old sanctions on Iraq.
But it also signaled that exports, suspended since the start of the month in a row over a pricing formula for exports, would resume by saying Baghdad wanted one billion Euros (almost 900 million dollars) to be set aside for the Palestinians.
On Friday, the United Nations said its oil overseers had resolved the disagreement with Iraq over pricing that led Baghdad to cut off exports of between 2.3 and 2.4 million barrels of crude a day.
The overseers recommended that the UN's Iraq sanctions committee accept a new pricing formula proposed by the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
Iraq has been under sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
But the oil-for-food program, launched in December 1996, allows Iraq in sixth-monthly phases to export crude under UN supervision to finance imports of essential goods for its 22-million population.
The eighth phase of the program ran out on December 5 – BAGHDAD (AFP)
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