USIS Washington 

18 March 1998


(Facts about United Nations economic sanctions on Iraq) (1000)

Washington -- Following is the text of a U.S. Government fact sheet on
United Nations sanctions on Iraq:

(Begin text)

Why the United Nations Imposed Sanctions

o In August 1990, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the United
Nations adopted UN Security Council Resolution 661 imposing economic
sanctions. The Resolution prohibited member states from trading,
providing goods, services, or arms; or conducting financial
transaction with Iraq.

o From the outset, the sanctions included a humanitarian exception:
Iraq was allowed to purchase food, medicine and other humanitarian

Post Gulf War Resolutions and Sanctions

o As a condition for ending the war, the United Nations required Iraq
to demonstrate its peaceful intentions. It adopted resolutions calling
on Iraq to: (i) declare and destroy its weapons of mass destruction
capacity, forswear future acquisition of such weapons and allow U.N.
weapons inspectors to establish an ongoing monitoring system to ensure
it did not rebuild its weapons or the missiles to deliver them (UNSCR
687); (ii) recognize its border with Kuwait (UNSCR 687); (iii) account
for Kuwaiti casualties and prisoners of war, and return stolen goods
(UNSCR 687); (iv) end its support for terrorism (UNSCR 687); (v) end
repression of the Iraqi people and establish a broad dialogue to
ensure human and political rights (UNSCR 688). Iraq agreed to comply
with the terms of the cease-fire.

o To compel compliance with these resolutions, the United Nations
maintained the Gulf War economic sanctions but continued to exempt
food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.

Iraq's Record of Intransigence and Disregard for Its Own People

o The power to lift the sanctions lies with Iraq -- all it has to do
is comply with the post-war UNSCRs. Iraq could have done so seven
years ago. It could do so tomorrow. Instead, it has chosen to defy the
will of the world and perpetuate the suffering of its people:

-- Instead of declaring and destroying all its weapons of mass
destruction capacity, Iraq failed to account for chemical and
biological weapons, the missiles to deliver them and the capacity to
build more. It consistently has harassed, evaded and lied to the
weapons inspectors. It provoked the recent crisis with the U.N. by
challenging the integrity of the inspection system.

-- It has continually delayed in providing the Red Cross real
accountings for Kuwaiti prisoners and missing.

-- Iraq continues to deploy stolen Kuwaiti military equipment, rather
than return it and other Kuwaiti property to its rightful owners.

-- It has continued its recourse to terror beyond its borders,
including a plot to assassinate former President Bush in 1993.

-- It has continued to practice the most brutal forms of repression,
murder, deportation, and economic deprivation targeted against Kurds,
Shia and Sunni dissidents, and documented by the UN Special Rapporteur
on human rights.

o Instead of devoting resources to caring for and feeding its people,
the Iraqi regime chose to spend its money building lavish palaces --
48 since the Gulf War -- hiding its weapons of mass destruction, and
hoarding and stockpiling food for its elite military units. At the
same time, since implementation of UNSCR 986, it has drastically
reduced its own food purchases by some $300-$500 million per year. The
regime has made a conscious choice to starve its own people and then
cynically use their plight to manipulate international public opinion.


o To help supply Iraq with food, medicine and other humanitarian
supplies, the United Nations Security Council, led by the United
States, in 1991 proposed an "oil-for-food" program under U.N.
supervision. (UNSCRs 706, 712 and 986). For almost six years, Iraq
rejected this offer -- and its people paid the price.

o In 1995, the US again took the lead in proposing an expanded
oil-for-food program. In early 1996, Iraq finally accepted UNSCR 986,
although it delayed implementation of the program until December 1996.
It allows Iraq to sell $2.5 billion of oil each year to buy food and
medicine, under close U.N. supervision, and to compensate people it
harmed during the war.

-- Iraq has tried to thwart the smooth operation of this program. For
example, it canceled contracts worth several million dollars for food
and medicine already approved by the Security Council. It also stopped
pumping oil from June 8-August 13, 1997, and December 5-January 14,
1998, while trying to wrest control of the program from the UN.

-- Despite Iraq's efforts to undermine Oil-for-Food, the program has
delivered for the Iraqi people. The UN Sanctions Committee has
approved over 95% of nearly 1600 requests for humanitarian goods. Over
3.5 million metric tons of relief purchased through the program has
arrived in Iraq.

o In February 1998, the United Nations voted to expand UNSCR 986. The
Secretary General recommended an increase in supplies and highlighted
the need to rehabilitate hospitals, water treatment facilities,
schools and food distribution. He also proposed increases in
agricultural inputs. Following those recommendations, the Security
Council agreed to increase authorized exports to $5.2 billion for six
months. Of that total:

-- A third will be kept by the UN for expenses and war reparations;
twenty percent will go to one-time projects to be completed under UN
supervision to make delivery of relief more effective; another thirty
percent will go for food imports, with the increase aimed at improving
protein content or focused on vulnerable populations.

o The U.N. program garnishees Iraq's oil revenues. UN approval and
monitoring is required at every step of the process -- from the
contract to sell oil to the distribution of goods to all Iraqis. The
UN's charge is to prevent diversions and make sure humanitarian
assistance gets to the people who need it. These controls will be
reinforced under the expanded program.

(End text)

(For more information on this subject, contact our special Iraq
website at: