The United States vowed Tuesday to continue efforts to impose narrower, tighter sanctions on Iraq, after backing away from a showdown with Russia in the UN Security Council.
"It is now apparent that agreement within the council to change radically our approach to Iraq is not only desirable, but achievable," the acting US ambassador to the United Nations, James Cunningham said, cited by AFP.
He recalled that Britain had brought a draft resolution to the council a month ago to scrap the 11-year-old embargo on civilian trade with Iraq while tightening controls to prevent it from smuggling crude oil and illegal weapons.
"It would have been adopted today save for the threat of a veto," Cunningham told the council in a public session, without mentioning Russia by name.
"But a veto would bring our work to a halt and would be a victory for Iraq," he said.
Instead, the council voted unanimously to roll over the United Nation's humanitarian program in Iraq for 150 days from midnight Tuesday (0400 GMT Wednesday).
Cunningham and his British counterpart, Jeremy Greenstock, both said the proposed reforms sought to relieve the plight of the Iraqi people, whose standard of living has collapsed since sanctions were imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990, said the agency.
Britain and the United States say the humanitarian situation is due to the failure of the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to make proper use of the oil-for-food program, put in place in December 1996.
The program now enters a new phase, following a one-month extension of the previous six-month phase ordered by the council on June 1 while it held negotiations on sanctions reform.
Greenstock noted that Russia had agreed to the one-month extension, but Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Sergei Lavrov, told reporters that agreeing to negotiate was not the same as agreeing to agree.
"We subscribed to the notion that the council should consider the new arrangements," he said.
"We Russians certainly did consider the proposed arrangements, and we believe there are too many questions unanswered," he added.
The one-month extension "was not only about the humanitarian program; it was also about increasing sanctions pressure and using for this purpose the humanitarian program," he said.
Lavrov said Russia wanted "a comprehensive approach" to the problem of Iraq – Albawaba.com
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