UN to end Saddam-era sanctions on Iraq

The UN Security Council will end a swathe of Saddam Hussein-era sanctions against Iraq soon.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 20:03 PM IST

United Nations: The UN Security Council
will end a swathe of Saddam Hussein-era sanctions against Iraq on Wednesday in a sign of the changes in the country, diplomats
said.

US Vice President Joe Biden will chair a Security
Council meeting that will lift the international penalties
mainly dating from Saddam`s 1990 invasion of neighbouring
Kuwait that set off the first Gulf War.

While international worries persist over attacks on
Iraq`s Christians and other minorities, and no definitive
post-war agreement has been reached with Kuwait, US ambassador
to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said it is time for
international recognition of the "very real progress" made in
Iraq.

Before the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq was the
target of the toughest sanctions regime in UN history with a
near total trade and financial embargo.

One resolution to be passed tomorrow would lift
sanctions imposed in 1991 to stop Iraq building the feared
nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that were never found
after 2003.

A second resolution would end the oil-for-food
programme which allowed Saddam to use billions of dollars of
oil money to buy food and medicine between 1996 and 2003.

A third resolution would extend UN protection for six
months for hundreds of millions of dollars in the Development
Fund for Iraq (DFI), which was set up after the 2003 war to
handle oil and other revenues.

The UN Security Council passed the original
resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which was used
to authorise sanctions and the international military
operation to liberate Kuwait in 1991.

Tomorrow`s meeting will be "an important opportunity
for the international community to recognise the very real
progress that Iraq has made, both in terms of government
formation, as well as the significant steps that have been
taken to terminate its Chapter VII obligations," said Rice
when she presented the Security Council programme earlier this
month.

The United States holds the Security Council
presidency for December. But a diplomat from another of the 14
nations on the council said all were agreed that steps had to
be taken to re-establish full Iraqi sovereignty over its
affairs.

Iraq informed the Security Council in July of measures
it has taken to show its commitment to disarmament, including
its intention to sign an International Atomic Energy Agency
protocol allowing for extra international checks on its
facilities.

The Security Council has called on Iraq to ratify the
protocol as soon as possible, and some council members wanted
this reaffirmed in the resolution to be passed on Wednesday.

PTI