- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

ST. LOUIS President Bush yesterday urged the United Nations to lift economic sanctions against Iraq as the administration continues to move past the military phase of the campaign onto the task of reconstruction.
"Now that Iraq is liberated, the United Nations should lift economic sanctions on that country," the president told 1,000 workers at a Boeing aircraft factory, which assembles the F-18 fighter jets known as Super Hornets.
The United States intends to propose a resolution to lift the sanctions "in the near future," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said aboard Air Force One.
As a sign that the conflict is all but over, Mr. Bush used the past tense in describing the military effort in Iraq, which included armaments produced at the Boeing production plant.
"The quality of the workmanship that goes into the aircraft that you build here is one of the main reasons why we were successful in making the world a more peaceful place," he said.
The president's call for a quick end to sanctions on Iraq which would allow the nation to sell oil to help pay the cost of reconstruction was met with immediate sounds of disapproval.
Some U.N. diplomats said ending sanctions, which only allow Iraq to sell oil for necessities, such as food, and which bars nations from trading with Iraq except through that oil-for-food program, should depend on the world body certifying that Iraq is free of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Those diplomats hinted that one key to ending sanctions might depend on a U.S. willingness to re-admit U.N. arms inspectors. Other members of the Security Council, which would have to approve a new resolution, said letting the United States pursue the inspection process would lack credibility in the international community.
U.S. officials said they did not expect France, Germany, Russia or China, which opposed a second U.N. resolution calling for action on Iraq, to oppose a new resolution on lifting the sanctions.
The Security Council could take up the matter as early as Tuesday, when chief weapons inspector Hans Blix delivers a briefing for the 15 members.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte told reporters that Washington was still working on the specifics of how sanctions would be lifted, but added: "I think we envision some sort of step-by-step procedure."
The sanctions were imposed after a U.S.-led military coalition expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991, but Iraq has violated them several times. With reconstruction estimates running into the billions of dollars, the United States hopes to tap into oil revenue to help offset the cost.
Mr. Bush stopped in St. Louis his 10th trip to Missouri, which he narrowly won in 2000 on his way to his Texas ranch for the Easter holiday.
While there were few political overtones to his 30-minute speech, the president extolled his administration's tough-on-terrorism policy, a likely cornerstone of his 2004 re-election campaign.
"Just one month ago, the forces of our coalition stood at the borders of Iraq with orders to advance hundreds of miles through hostile territory against a ruthless enemy," he said. "Today, organized military resistance has virtually ended; the major cities of Iraq have been liberated."
Mr. Bush said the speedy U.S. victory came because of new technology, but warned that there still may be some pockets of resistance.
"We've applied the new powers of technology like the F-18s to strike an enemy force with speed and incredible precision. Our work is not done; the difficulties have not passed; but the regime of Saddam Hussein has passed into history," said the president.
Before leaving for St. Louis, Mr. Bush signed a $79 billion supplemental budget measure that will finance combat, reconstruction and domestic anti-terror efforts. He also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi about the North Korean crisis.

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