Iraq Questions Humanitarian Oil Program

Published November 9th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Even as Baghdad was complaining that continued participation in the U.N. oil-for-food program was not beneficial for it, Iraq ended a one-day suspension of oil exports from the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the morning of November 8th by authorizing tankers to begin their loadings.  


Iraq halted its exports on November 7th in a protest against the U.N.’s tardiness in implementing the necessary procedures to convert oil payments into Euros from dollars.  


On November 6th, the U.N. opened a new escrow account in New York to allow Iraqi crude customers to pay in Euros, but was unable to establish a standard letter of credit in Euros until November 7th to complete the mechanism.  


On October 31st, Iraq had extended the deadline for the switch from November 1st to November 7th. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, questioned the benefit of continuing oil exports while the proceeds from the sales were held in a bank account in New York.  


The Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted the letter as saying that: “Iraq questions officially the U.N. on the benefit of continuing pumping at a time that its revenues from oil sales are accumulating at the bank.” The escrow account currently holds more than $11 billion in Iraqi oil revenues.  


Annan said on November 7th that he would meet with Iraqi leaders to discuss returning U.N. arms inspectors to Baghdad after a two-year hiatus.  


Annan will hold talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf and other leaders at the November 12th-14th summit of the 56-nation Islamic Conference in Qatar. He said that: “I think the Iraqis - as many of the members states here in this organization - would like the impasse we’re in here broken, and for us to move forward.”  


Under U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1284, if Baghdad cooperates with weapons inspectors for eight months, sanctions against the country will be suspended. Iraq categorically refuses to accept the new U.N. inspection regime, saying that it has already dismantled all banned weapons of mass destruction.  


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