The latest phase of the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq, which expires on December 5, has been extended by 10 days, an Iraqi newspaper reported Tuesday.
"The current phase of the oil-for-food program has been extended until December 15 to allow all contracts passed within this phase to be executed," an oil ministry source told Al-Qadissiya. "During this period (of 10 days), Iraq is due to export 434 million barrels of oil as part of 93 contracts signed with 34 countries," the source said.
There was no confirmation of an extension to the current phase from the United Nations, which has to approve any such move.
Iraq has been under international sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but is allowed to export crude under the program - launched in December 1996 and run in six-monthly phases - to finance imports of essential goods.
Most of the import contracts require the approval of a UN Security Council sanctions committee. Iraq has long accused the committee's US and British members of deliberately blocking the contracts.
Iraq has threatened to halt its oil exports of around 2.3 million barrels per day and put a squeeze on the world oil market unless the sanctions committee lifted its curbs on Baghdad's import contracts.
On Monday, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said Baghdad was expected to suspend crude exports in coming days due to a tussle with the United Nations over control of the oil revenues.
Iraq asked the sanctions committee to extend the current phase of the oil-for-food programme to January 15, apparently to meet its existing commitments after having oversold, MEES reported. — (AFP)
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