Iraq threatened Thursday to halt its UN-authorised oil exports unless the UN sanctions committee lifted its "holds" on Baghdad's import contracts.
"We, the Iraqi people, are thinking seriously that ... we should stop exporting oil, at least until the 661 (sanctions) committee releases the 'on-hold' Iraq contracts so that we can benefit from our exported oil," said the Baghdad Observer.
The official daily, in an editorial, was referring to the UN oil-for-food programme under which Iraq is authorised to export crude under strict UN supervision to finance imports of essential goods.
The programme, launched in December 1996, is run in six-monthly phases, the latest of which expires on December 5. Iraq has been under sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
"If the world community doesn't feel its responsibility towards Iraq's suffering, why should Iraq feel responsible for the expected oil price increase in case it stopped exporting?" asked the Baghdad Observer.
"Why should Iraq continue exporting its oil while the revenues are being directed away from its people? Are we exporting oil to pay compensations and UN salaries?" it asked.
A third of the revenues from the oil exports are deducted to pay compensation for the 1991 Gulf War, which evicted Iraqi occupation from Kuwait and to finance UN operations in Iraq.
The Observer charged that the oil-for-food deal, which Baghdad accepted reluctantly but only as a temporary measure while pressing for a total lifting of sanctions, had turned into "a permanent UN measure crippling Iraq and harming its people."—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )