Iraq Wants Overhaul of UN ‘Looting’ Program
Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Wednesday that Iraq plans to review the UN oil-for-food accord, charging that it steals the money of the sanctions-hit country.
"After almost four years of implementation, it is time for a thorough examination of the usefulness of continuing this program under its current formula," he said in an interview with the Emirati newspaper Al-Ittihad.
"This will be the key question to examine over the next phase," the vice president said.
The humanitarian accord, launched in December 1996, is designed to ease the hardships of the embargo by authorizing Iraq to export crude under strict UN control to finance imports of essential goods.
A third of the oil revenues are siphoned off to pay war reparations for the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, since when Baghdad has been under sanctions, and to finance UN operations in Iraq.
"This program was accepted by Iraq after more than a year of negotiations with the UN secretary general as a temporary formula to remedy the humanitarian situation in Iraq," explained Ramadan.
"But it has been transformed into an operation to loot Iraqi funds by making deductions for UN funding and for the so-called compensation," he said.
On July 21st, Iraq's ruling Baath party charged that most of the country's oil export revenues were going to the United Nations rather than to feed its people of 22 million.
Ath-Thawra, the party's mouthpiece, said Baghdad had benefited only to the tune of some seven billion dollars while the sums deducted had reached 8.5 billion dollars, with some nine billion dollars sitting in a UN escrow account for Iraq – DUBAI (AFP)
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