Magazine article UN Chronicle

Iraq

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Iraq

Article excerpt

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said Al-Sahaf on 6 March told Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the Government of Iraq would cooperate fully with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), which oversees the destruction of proscribed arms held by Iraq, in order to ensure that all questions regarding missiles and chemical and biological weapons were resolved in the shortest possible time.

On 3 March, the Security Council had concluded that the conditions for modifying the sanctions regime still did not exist. In an earlier briefing, Rolf Ekeus, Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, had indicated that some outstanding issues remained, relating to the missiles, as well as to chemical and biological weapons fields. During a visit to Baghdad from 20 to 23 February, Mr. Ekeus and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz signed a joint statement in which Iraq had agreed to the removal of remnants of the proscribed missile engines for in-depth technical analysis by UNSCOM.

Iraq's previous refusal to allow UNSCOM to remove approximately 130 missile engines had been deplored by the Council on 30 December 1996. It stressed that "a full accounting for Iraq's missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres is a necessary prerequisite to enable the Commission to report that Iraq has complied with the requirements" established under Council resolution 687 (1991). Such compliance is needed for sanctions to be lifted.

Oil-for-food status

As of 21 March, a total of 40 oil contracts had been approved by the Security Council Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) concerning the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, comprising in volume some 112 million barrels. A total of 60 contracts for humanitarian goods had also been approved by the Committee, totalling some $291 million. On 20 March, the first consignment of humanitarian goods arrived in Iraq. Within a few days time, additional shipments had also arrived at all allowable ports of entry.

In a 10 March report, Secretary-General Annan had stressed that, while initial time lags between the initial flow of oil and the actual delivery of foodstuffs were in keeping with commercial practice, he nevertheless had "strong concerns about the pace". He had therefore directed that steps be taken to overcome the constraints the programme had so far encountered.

On 27 February, the Secretary-General appointed Staffan de Mistura of Sweden as Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. Mr. de Mistura, who succeeded Gualtiero Fulcheri of Italy, has had long experience in humanitarian work in the United Nations system. …

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