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USIS Washington 
File

28 April 1998

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL KEEPS SANCTIONS ON IRAQ

(Rejects Iraqi claims it has complied with weapons demands) (880)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent



United Nations -- After reviewing reports of UN weapons inspectors,
the UN Security Council determined April 27 it should not change the
sanctions imposed on Iraq after its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.


The Council held a series of private meetings throughout the day to
review the reports of the UN Special Commission overseeing the
destruction of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons (UNSCOM) and the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees the
elimination of Iraqi's nuclear weapons program. Council members also,
for the first time, heard a presentation by Iraq's foreign minister
and oil minister who have been in New York for talks with UN
officials.


Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad al-Sahhaf and Oil Minister Lt. General
Amer Rashid said they presented the Council with facts and figures
they said support their claim that all of Iraq's banned weapons and
weapons programs have been eliminated and sanctions against it should
be lifted.


U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson said that the United States
"thoroughly disagrees" with the Iraqi assessment.


"We think that they are not in compliance with Security Council
resolutions. There is still concealment, especially in the
chemical/biological area. We believe that they cannot get lifting of
sanctions by propaganda and making false statements," Richardson said
after the Council meeting with the Iraqi ministers.


"Sanctions will continue," the ambassador added.



After the Council completed the six-month review of the disarmament
process, Council President Hisashi Owada of Japan said that "as a
result of the discussion there was no consensus to modify the
sanctions regime."


Owada added that Council members will continue to consult during the
week on the Russian proposal to officially comment on Iraq's progress
on nuclear disarmament as reported by IAEA and has asked for more data
from UNSCOM Chairman Richard Butler.


"Finally the members of the Council expressed grave concern on the
question of the repatriation of all Kuwaiti nationals and the return
of all Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq including national archives,"
Owada said.


Richardson also voiced concern over Iraq's lack of progress on
repatriation, return of property and other human rights issues. He
said, however, that the United States feels it is "premature to close
the nuclear file, but we're ready to acknowledge progress in certain
areas."


"The main message is that sanctions will not be lifted because Iraq
has failed to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions,"
Richardson told journalists outside the Council's chambers.


British Ambassador Sir John Weston pointed out that "nobody, nobody
around the table is arguing in favor of the immediate lifting of
sanctions on Iraq ... because everybody accepts that there are
significant areas of incompleteness with respect to missiles, with
respect to chemical weapons, and with respect to biological weapons."


He also acknowledged that Iraq has made progress in the nuclear
weapons area but feels that not all questions have been answered. The
Russian draft resolution on the issue, therefore is "unnecessary and
unbalanced," he said.


Al-Sahhaf told an April 28 press conference he was at the UN to tell
Security Council members that Iraq has complied with the gulf war
cease-fire demands to eliminate of its chemical, biological, ballistic
and nuclear weapons programs. He accused the United States of
distorting facts, claimed all banned weapons have been destroyed and
demanded the lifting of sanctions "immediately."


He also charged that the experts who participated in the technical
meetings on biological and chemical weapons programs were "false
experts" and "adversaries" controlled by an UNSCOM that is biased
against Iraq. These experts concluded in March that the information
Iraq had supplied the UN regarding these weapons was incomplete and
inadequate.


Al-Sahhaf and Raschid also said they interpret the memorandum of
understanding signed by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Secretary
General Kofi Annan to mean that the U.N. weapons inspectors will not
be allowed unlimited visits to the presidential sites.


"I am telling you...(U.N. weapons inspectors) will not go there for
picnics they will not go there for disarmament procedures. This is a
special arrangement," al-Sahhaf said.


After the initial visit, al-Sahhaf said, "if they will need for any
reason, if they will need, maybe there will be a subsequent visit.
That's all."


In his April 28 comments to the press, UNSCOM Chairman Butler said
that his six-month report to the Council covered the most turbulent
period because of Iraq's refusal to grant the U.N. weapons experts
access to so-called presidential sites.


Following the February signing of the memorandum of understanding
between Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraq's leadership, said
Butler, there was an "entirely new spirit of cooperation" from Iraq.
However, he added, "regrettably we're not able to report any progress
in disarmament in the period."


If Iraq were to "give us full cooperation, the remaining material,
documents to verify their claims, our promise is that we will do that
verification honestly, with high level of competency and as quickly as
possible," Butler said.


"Iraq has all of that material in its archives (that UNSCOM needs), if
they really want this to be over they should give them to us," he
said.