Iraq will continue to export crude after the seventh half-yearly phase of the UN oil-for-food program runs out on June 8th, an official Iraqi oil ministry source said Tuesday.
"Iraq will not stop its oil exports when the seventh phase of the oil-for-food agreement ends Thursday," the source said, quoted in Al-Zaman newspaper.
"Baghdad will respect the contracts signed during this program, although they have already topped the 5.2-billion-dollar ceiling set by the United Nations," the source said.
The UN Security Council lifted the ceiling in last December's resolution 1284, which linked a suspension of sanctions in place against Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait to its full cooperation with a new UN arms inspection team, UNMOVIC.
Iraq rejected the resolution but has nonetheless increased oil exports, which will have generated almost 8.5 billion dollars by the end of the current phase.
The Iraqi source said "the official position of Iraq concerning a renewal of the UN Security Council program will be determined after the adoption of a resolution taking into account Iraq's strategic interests and international relations."
Iraqi officials regularly criticize the oil-for-food agreement saying it must not become an alternative to a full lifting of the embargo on Iraq.
The United Nations has renewed the agreement every six months but Iraq always casts doubt over its position and has gone as far as suspending oil exports before finally accepting the program's renewal.
The oil-for-food program launched in December 1996 allows Baghdad to export crude oil to finance imports of food, medicine, other humanitarian goods and oil industry spare parts under strict UN supervision - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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