Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Saturday that Iraq would "examine" any six-month renewal of the UN oil-for-food program that cleared the way for a resumption of crude exports, reported AFP.
"If such a question arises, we will examine it," he told reporters at the opening of a Syrian trade fair in Baghdad.
But Ramadan reiterated Iraq's rejection of the "smart" sanctions proposed by Britain and the United States, saying its aim was "to hinder the development of relations between Iraq and other Arab countries."
The United States and Britain on Friday increased pressure on Russia after four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council agreed on key elements in revising sanctions against Iraq.
Acting US Ambassador to the United Nations James Cunningham said that France, China, the United States and Britain reached agreement on the list of military and civilian technologies that Iraq could not freely import.
But diplomats in New York were skeptical on chances of agreement on the smart sanctions plan before a deadline of July 3.
The plan allows increased trade with Iraq, which has been under sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, while strengthening controls on goods that could be used for military purposes and oil smuggling.
Iraq cut off its UN-supervised oil exports on June 4 after the Security Council extended the oil-for-food program for one month instead of the usual six months, while it deliberated on smart sanctions.
If a draft on the revised sanctions is not passed in time, the Security Council will have to decide whether to renew the existing humanitarian program on a six-month basis as previously demanded by Baghdad.
Baghdad will not resume exports of crude if the Security Council continues to discuss revising UN sanctions past July 3, Iraq's foreign ministry undersecretary Riyadh Al Qaysi warned in New York on Friday, cited by AFP.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Saturday he is not certain whether the United States and Britain will gain Russia's consent on a revised the UN sanctions program for Iraq, citing Russia's "strong commercial interests."
Powell was guarded about the prospects for a new Iraqi sanctions regime, according to the Washington Post newspaper.
Powell has talked to the French and Chinese foreign ministers to enlist their support, it said.
Powell said Russia had been seeking a sanctions program that Iraq would agree to, although Iraq has rejected a Russian sanctions proposal as well as the British-American one.
Powell said he plans to talk with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov over the weekend.
Asked whether the United States would secure an agreement, Powell said, "I don't know.” – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )