- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) Iraq will resume oil exports after a month-long halt and has accepted the terms of a new Security Council resolution extending the U.N. oil-for-food program, Iraq's U.N. ambassador said yesterday.
But hours after Mohammed Douri said that "everything will be normalized," Iraq had still not signed off on a memorandum of understanding extending the humanitarian food program for an additional five months.
Mr. Douri said the delay was due to some problems with the wording being worked out between Iraqi diplomats and the U.N. legal affairs department. U.N. officials downplayed the technical differences, saying they wanted to get Iraq's agreement as soon as possible.
The sides were expected to complete the work by the end of yesterday.
Iraq halted exports on June 4 to protest a U.S.-British proposal to overhaul economic sanctions imposed on the oil-rich nation after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Mr. Douri indicated earlier Iraq would shortly restore its oil exports to a normal level of about 2 million barrels a day. According to U.N. estimates, the oil-for-food program has lost $1.3 billion in the four weeks Iraq stopped its oil sales.
Facing a veto by Russia Iraq's key ally on the Security Council Britain and the United States dropped their sanctions proposal on Tuesday and instead supported a simple extension of the oil-for-food program, something Baghdad had demanded before it would restart its oil exports.
Created in 1996 as an exemption to sanctions against Iraq, the program allows Iraq to export unlimited amounts of oil to purchase food, medicine and other essentials and pay war reparations.
It was not clear Tuesday whether Iraq would accept the new extension because that resolution had contained a mild reference to the U.S.-British proposal.
In Baghdad, the Iraqi leadership has remained silent on the oil-for-food program extension and has not given an indication of when exports might resume.
Immediately after the vote, Mr. Douri said Iraq needed time to study the resolution before making a decision.
Washington and London said they would use the next five months to press for Russian support of their sanctions plan, which aims to ease the flow of civilian goods while tightening an 11-year-old arms embargo and plugging up oil-smuggling routes.
But Moscow which is owed billions of dollars by Iraq has its own rival resolution aimed at hastening an end to sanctions by calling for a long-term monitoring program rather than intrusive inspections of Iraq's weapons program.
Under Security Council resolutions however, 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 their return. The Iraqi government maintains that it has eliminated its weapons programs and has demanded the immediate lifting of sanctions.

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