Iraq's Impatience on Sanctions May Widen Split in UN Council UN Monitoring Effort of Arms Destruction Is Seen as Final Hurdle

Article excerpt

IRAQ'S impatience with biting United Nations economic sanctions is sure to be a major theme of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz's address to the General Assembly tomorrow.

The remarks may further deepen a growing split on the issue inside the UN Security Council. Yet any lifting of the oil-sales embargo, part of the sanctions package imposed in August 1990 on Iraq after it moved into Kuwait, is not expected before mid-1995 at the earliest.

The Council's next review of Iraqi sanctions will not be held until mid-November. But early next week Rolf Ekeus, head of the UN special commission that oversees the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, is expected to report that a long-term monitoring system to keep Iraq from reacquiring such weapons finally is up and running.

That monitoring effort is widely viewed as the last major hurdle in the arms-destruction job. When the Council is satisfied with Iraq's weapons compliance, according to a controversial 22nd paragraph in a Council cease-fire resolution, the ban on Iraqi oil sales will end.

Both France and Russia, which have had strong trade ties with Iraq, favor a six-month test period. France is eager to tap Iraq's rich oil reserves and Russia is owed $6 billion by Iraq for arms and other purchases.

The United States and Britain want no specific probationary period. Oman and Argentina also support a more-cautious approach. US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright says Iraq must show a "pattern of compliance" with all cease-fire terms including respect for its minorities and return of Kuwaiti prisoners and property. Iraq's record so far she calls "a stunning failure."

One condition not mentioned in paragraph 22 but supported by all Security Council members is the requirement that Iraq recognize the sovereignty of Kuwait and its UN-drawn border before any sanctions are lifted. "I think that {Iraqi move} would significantly change the atmosphere in the Council," says New Zealand Ambassador Colin Keating.

Mr. Aziz has said that Iraq would take that step when sure that those calling for it have no hidden agenda. One Arab diplomat sympathetic to Iraq says the move is Iraq's last card and will be played when Baghdad is sure of a solid gain in return. "After all," he asks, "what could the Security Council do if Iraq stops cooperating?"

That is precisely what Iraq now threatens. Officials say Iraq will reconsider its cooperation with UN weapons inspectors unless progress on ending sanctions comes soon. In a front-page editorial this month, Babel, Iraq's most influential newspaper, says flatly, "There will be no future {weapons} monitoring without the lifting of the embargo. …


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