- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2001

NEW YORK The Russian government for the first time has agreed to develop a list of "dual use" items that cannot be exported to Iraq, removing a major obstacle to the introduction of the more humane, targeted sanctions long sought by the United States.
Once the list of prohibited items is accepted by the U.N. Security Council, Iraq, in theory, will be able to use its oil revenues to import anything that is not forbidden.
The list, hundreds of items long, is still a work in progress. It includes everything from garden-variety pesticides to precursors for chemical weapons to sophisticated military hardware.
Diplomats yesterday said they were pleased with the negotiations, and expected to vote on the resolution today.
"We're not just kicking the issue forward another six months," said Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham. "This is significant."
Even after the list is adopted on June 1 Iraq's revenues will continue to be spent through a U.N. escrow account. However, the council's 15 members no longer will have the right to vet Baghdad's shopping list.
The council imposed a crippling embargo on Iraq after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions in place today are to ensure that Baghdad cooperates with U.N. inspectors looking for signs of prohibited chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
The Iraqi government claims that sanctions have killed some 1.6 million civilians, and have compromised its domestic manufacturing and oil-production facilities.
U.N. estimates are more conservative, but the humanitarian impact has been undeniable.
Baghdad so successfully eroded international support for the embargo that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year said Iraq had "won the propaganda war."
The resolution the council is expected to adopt today is essentially a rollover of the oil-for-food plan that allows Iraq to pump unlimited supplies and sell it to U.N.-approved companies.
But it also takes note of the so-called goods review list, "and decides to adopt the list and the procedures, subject to any refinements to them agreed by the council in light of further consultations, for implementation beginning 1 June 2002."
The list had been in the works for six months, when the United States and Britain first proposed a more focused sanctions regime that would let more aid through to the Iraqi people. Western governments wanted a more comprehensive accounting while France and China demanded that whole categories of items be stricken.
But the Russians, who have most closely represented Baghdad's interests in the council, said at the time that more consultations were necessary. They have agreed to the concept of a list, but not what belongs on it.
The United States, in return, has agreed to re-examine the December 1999 resolution that promises to temporarily suspend the sanctions once the weapons inspectors are back at work.
The resolution was left deliberately vague, diplomats said at the time, not defining what was required of Iraq in the way of cooperation, nor outlining how the sanctions could be reimposed, if necessary.
Some diplomats here said that was an important concession by Washington, but Mr. Cunningham downplayed such thoughts.
"Our approach on the inspections hasn't changed," he said yesterday. "We're willing to discuss anything."
Iraq has refused to allow the weapons inspectors to return since Dec. 16, 1998, when an exasperated Clinton administration bombed military targets to force compliance with Security Council resolutions.
Earlier this week, President Bush was asked if he envisioned the war on terrorism spreading to Iraq.
"As for Mr. Saddam Hussein, he needs to let inspectors back in his country to show us that he is not developing weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Bush said in a Rose Garden press conference.
Baghdad categorically rejected new inspections, and said it would not be intimidated by threats. It was not clear yesterday whether Iraq would accept the new sanctions regime, which could undercut international sympathy and bite into smuggling revenues.

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