The White House praised the UN Security Council for reforming sanctions on Iraq, but warned Saddam Hussein must now "prove" that he shares global concern over the impact of sanctions on the Iraqi population.
The Council's unanimous vote to reform its 12-year-old sanctions regime so as to free up delivery of humanitarian supplies to Iraq "is a step forward for the Iraqi people," said spokesman Ari Fleischer.
But US President George W. Bush "believes firm, focused controls must remain on the government of Iraq until it complies fully with its UN obligations," Fleischer told reporters. And "for this new system to be effective in bringing help to the people of Iraq, there must be a real commitment by the government of Iraq to the same goal," the spokesman said.
"Iraq's government has an opportunity to prove that it seeks the same benefits for all its citizens," the spokesman added.
The 15-0 vote was a victory for the United States with backing from Russia, Iraq's most important council ally.
The overhaul extends the U.N. oil-for-food program for six months and represents the biggest change since the humanitarian program was started in 1996 to help Iraq's people cope with sanctions imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The newly adopted resolution includes a lengthy list of goods that would need U.N. review before shipment to Iraq, ranging from telecommunications and information technology equipment to sophisticated engineering items. But all other humanitarian goods can be freely imported by Iraq.
Under the program's current operation, the U.N. committee monitoring sanctions must approve most contracts for humanitarian goods. But any of the 15 Security Council members can place a contract on hold. (Albawaba.com)
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