Embargo on Iraq May Slow Aid Effort

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeffrey Sparshott, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

International and national sanctions against Iraq create thorny legal issues that make working on reconstruction there difficult for U.S. or other companies.

"The status of the sanctions regime on Iraq post-Saddam Hussein is still to be determined. Discussions are ongoing on how the sanctions regime will effect transactions in a post-Saddam Iraq," said a U.S. Treasury official who asked not to be named.

The Treasury Department enforces the sanctions implemented by the United States and United Nations.

The U.N. embargo against Iraq, dating to 1990, covers the importation of all goods and services that the United States or Britain would use for the country's reconstruction, a U.N. diplomat said.

"If the U.S. or British forces want to import anything into Iraq, it would have to be channeled through the sanctions committee," said the New York-based diplomat, who spoke on the condition that he not be named.

The House and Senate last week passed different versions of legislation that would alter or lift U.S. sanctions, in place since 1990.

Meanwhile, U.S. companies are sending personnel to the country as humanitarian and reconstruction efforts get under way.

The Treasury official said nongovernmental organizations and other groups are being allowed into Iraq for emergency humanitarian purposes and to assess needs of the people.

Stevedoring Services of America, which won a $4.8 million U.S. Agency for International Development award for assessment and management activities at the Umm Qasr port in Iraq, sent 15 workers to Kuwait Monday and expected the first to arrive in Iraq Wednesday, said Andy McLauchlan, vice president of business development at the Seattle company.

The port is a crucial link for humanitarian aid to enter the country.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is in charge of $1.7 billion in contracts for Iraq's postwar reconstruction.

Contracts that have been put out for bid include seaport administration; airport administration; capital construction, such as emergency repair of the electrical supply, water and sanitation systems; logistical support, such as warehousing and customs clearance; public health; education; local governance; and personnel support. …