News

USIS Washington 
File

20 February 1998

TEXT: BURLEIGH REMARKS TO SECURITY COUNCIL ON OIL-FOR-FOOD PLAN

(US "proud to cast its vote" expanding program for Iraq)  (1150)



United Nations -- Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United
Nations Peter Burleigh says the United States "is proud to cast its
vote" in favor of the UN Security Council resolution expanding the
humanitarian oil-for-food program for Iraq.


The resolution would allow Iraq to increase the dollar amount of oil
it can sell on the world market in order to finance the importation of
humanitarian goods such as food and medicine.


In remarks to the Council February 20, Burleigh said: "The United
States is deeply concerned about the welfare of the Iraqi people, and
we want to do everything we can to make sure their basic needs are
met."


Burleigh said Baghdad's "failure to commit its own resources to
support his humanitarian recommendations, is a telling reminder of the
Iraqi government's true attitude toward the plight of its people.


"That is why the United States stands ready to work closely with other
members of this Council to ensure that this resolution works as
intended -- works not for the benefit of the Iraqi regime, but for the
welfare of ordinary people in Iraq," he said.


Following are the US/UN remarks, as prepared for delivery and as read
to the UNSC:


(begin text)



STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR A. PETER BURLEIGH, UNITED STATES DEPUTY
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATIONS, IN THE SECURITY
COUNCIL, IN EXPLANATION OF VOTE, ON IRAQ -- OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAM
ENHANCEMENT, FEBRUARY 20, 1998


Mr. President, the United States is proud to cast its vote today in
favor of this resolution to expand the 986 humanitarian program in
Iraq. It is, quite simply, the largest UN-sanctioned humanitarian
program in the history of this organization. As such, it is a concrete
demonstration that the United Nations, and in particular the members
of this Council, remain committed to meeting the essential
humanitarian needs of all Iraq's people.


Let me make our position very clear. The United States is deeply
concerned about the welfare of the Iraqi people, and we want to do
everything we can to make sure their basic needs are met.


For that reason, we welcomed the Secretary General's recommendations.
We strongly supported expansion of the 986 program to make it more
effective and more efficient. We favored an increase in the dollar
amount of oil sales permitted under the program in order to finance
the importation of additional humanitarian goods. We believe that
expanding the scope of the program is desirable and in fact essential
to its humanitarian goals.


Our position and that of all the other members of the Council stands
in stark contrast to the policies of Iraq's leadership.


While Iraqi children have gone hungry, Saddam Hussein has diverted
scarce resources to build more palaces and weapons of mass
destruction. While Iraq has ceaselessly complained about delays in the
Sanctions Committee, it has submitted many 986 contracts that fail to
meet the criteria and procedures that Iraq agreed to with the U.N.
Secretariat, and has routinely stooped to political favoritism in the
986 contracting process. And after the Council extended the 986
program twice in 1997, the Iraqi government twice delayed new oil
sales under the resolution, needlessly slowing the delivery of
humanitarian goods, and forcing the Council to adopt resolution 1129
to avoid further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.


Indeed, Iraq refused even to provide input to the Secretary General's
report, a report intended to provide to the Council recommendations on
ways to improve the delivery and increase the supply of humanitarian
goods to Iraq. On February 5, Iraq sent its official "observations" on
the Secretary General's report, in which it rejected many of his
proposals and recommendations. Most notably, it rejected his call for
an ongoing distribution plan and his practical expectation that Iraq
would contribute local resources to infrastructure projects.


The use of one's own resources to help one's own people is a basic
moral obligation that should form the cornerstone of a responsible
government's reaction to real humanitarian needs. Iraq's failure to
provide information for the Secretary General's report, and its
failure to commit its own resources to support his humanitarian
recommendations, is a telling reminder of the Iraqi government's true
attitude toward the plight of its people.


That is why the United States stands ready to work closely with other
members of this Council to ensure that this resolution works as
intended -- works not for the benefit of the Iraqi regime, but for the
welfare of ordinary people in Iraq.


We must give the Secretary General our strong support and clear
guidance as he implements this massive program, including a
significant expansion of the United Nations observation and monitoring
function in Iraq.


We must make certain that food and medicine, and infrastructure
improvements directly related to their distribution, remain the top
priorities under this new resolution. Nothing is more important to the
basic welfare of Iraqi citizens.


We must make certain that the goods imported into Iraq under this
resolution are carefully observed and monitored, so they cannot be
diverted to military purposes or used for the personal benefit of the
Iraqi leadership.


We must make certain that the other commitments Iraq agreed to when it
accepted resolution 986 -- paying a certain percentage of oil revenues
to fund UNSCOM, the U.N. Compensation Commission, and other important
functions -- are honored.


We must make certain that the Sanctions Committee acts quickly yet
responsibly to approve contracts in a manner consistent with the
intent of this and other relevant resolutions.


And we must wait until we have more and better information before
authorizing any oil infrastructure improvements under this resolution,
and do so only after careful consideration on the basis of the
Secretary General's forthcoming report and of the humanitarian
objectives of this resolution.


Let me remind everyone that resolution 986 was intended by the Council
as a temporary measure to provide essential humanitarian assistance to
the Iraqi people, not as a vehicle to refurbish Iraq's economy. That
will be possible only when the sanctions authorized by the Security
Council are lifted. And that, in turn, will happen when Iraq complies
fully and unconditionally with all relevant resolutions of this
Council.


It is sad that the Iraqi leaders have postponed that day for so long
by consistently and flagrantly flouting their obligations under the
resolutions, obligations that they themselves agreed to under the
terms of the gulf war ceasefire. Unfortunately, as long as the
government of Iraq persists in its mistaken belief that it can defy
the will of the international community and that of the Council, the
sanctions must remain in place. And the United Nations will continue
to carry the burden that the Iraqi government has refused to bear --
caring for the welfare of the people of Iraq. Thank you, Mr.
President.


(end text)