The United Nations confirmed reports on Friday that Iraq had stopped exporting oil through the only two outlets it is allowed to use under the UN's sanctions regime.
"As far as we know, the oil is no longer flowing from the two authorised ports," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
In Baghdad, the Iraqi oil ministry blamed the stoppage on the refusal of the UN sanctions committee to accept Iraq's proposal for a new pricing programme for December.
Diplomats said earlier that Iraq had asked the UN to price its oil below market rates in order to absorb a surcharge which it has reportedly asked customers to pay, in breach of UN sanctions.
"The US and British representatives on the committee are responsible for that," the oil ministry said in a statement.
It did not confirm or deny claims by a spokeswoman for Turkey's state oil and gas company, Botas, that Iraq had halted its oil shipments through the Turkish port of Ceyhan late Thursday.
Iraq exports about 40 percent of its daily sales of 2.3 million barrels of oil through Ceyhan. About 60 percent is exported through the Iraqi Gulf terminal at Mina al-Bakr.
"The oil overseers for the UN Iraq Programme are continuing their efforts to reach the Iraqi oil authority, or SOMO, so far without success, to get agreement on a new price mechanism for December," Eckhard said.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "at this time has nothing to say publicly about this," he added.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)