- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2001

The Bush administration said yesterday that it would support an extension of the U.N. oil-for-food sanctions program against Iraq, postponing for at least several months its scheme to soften sanctions on civilian goods.
The announcement came at the State Department after Bush administration officials said they had failed to overcome Russian objections to the "smart sanctions" scheme. Russia has a veto on the U.N. Security Council.
Iraq opposed the program and Russia, its closest ally, wanted to see the U.N. sanctions on Iraq scrapped altogether.
All other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Britain and the United States — had agreed to the plan to ease sanctions on a broad range of consumer goods while cracking down on smuggling.
"We'll be joining the consensus for a rollover of the current resolution so that we can continue to work on the specifics both in terms of getting Russia on board with the goods review list and in terms of working out the rest of the elements of the resolution," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
"It's clear that the remaining differences [with Russia] will not be resolved by tomorrow," Mr. Boucher said. The existing sanctions had been due to expire today.
The United States succeeded during the past month in winning support from the other Security Council members and narrowing the list of civilian goods Iraq could purchase.
But Russia remained the lone holdout, despite a last-minute telephone call from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
Iraq said yesterday it would resume exporting oil once the program was extended, ending a moratorium on exports announced June 4 to protest the proposed overhaul in the sanctions program.
Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council that because there was no agreement on revamping the sanctions, Britain would introduce a resolution to extend the oil-for-food program.
He said the length of the extension had not been decided. Diplomats said it was likely to be three to six months.
"I think an extension is agreeable to everybody," said China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Yingfan, the current Security Council president.
Mr. Greenstock said that Britain, along with the United States, would keep working for unanimity on the proposal to overhaul sanctions against Iraq. The sanctions were imposed after Iraq's 1990 occupation of Kuwait.
Mr. Powell made his plan for smart sanctions a top objective when he took office in January, hoping to persuade the Iraqi people that Saddam Hussein, not the United States, is the cause of their suffering.
Mr. Powell said last week that Russia was not cooperating with his plan and was protecting its commercial interests with Iraq.
Iraq pursued a vigorous campaign against the plan. Baghdad yesterday promised to reward Moscow with oil contracts and other commercial benefits if it vetoed the U.S.-British sanctions plan.
"Iraq will take into consideration the positive positions of countries over the sanctions" imposed on it, said the undersecretary of state at the Oil Ministry, Fayez Shahin. He was quoted by the Iraqi News Agency.
"Iraq's relations with Russia will strengthen in all areas in the future. Russian companies will have priority in supplying Iraq in various fields."
Last week, Russia introduced a rival resolution to hasten the end to Iraqi sanctions. It would suspend sanctions on civilian goods once U.N. weapons inspectors certify that a long-term program to monitor Iraq's weapons programs is fully deployed. The Russian draft remains on the table.
Under Security Council resolutions, sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Weapons inspectors left Iraq ahead of U.S.-British air strikes in December 1998, and Baghdad has barred them from returning.
c This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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