5 February 1997

Press Release


The following was issued today by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 661 (1990), which is monitoring the sanctions against Iraq:

At its 149th meeting held on 3 February, the Security Council Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) concerning the situation between Iraq and Kuwait heard a presentation by Vice Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Coordinator of the Multinational Interception Force (MIF) enforcing the sanctions regime. This was the second presentation to the Committee by the MIF; Vice Admiral Redd had briefed the Committee in February 1996. The MIF, one of the largest maritime sanctions monitoring and verification efforts in history, is operating in the Persian Gulf on the strength of Security Council resolution 665 (1990) and under national command. Vessels from 15 countries, serving on rotation, have so far participated in the Force.

In his remarks, Vice Admiral Fargo noted that the MIF operations were designed to prevent prohibited items from entering and leaving Iraq. He emphasized that the Force offered no hindrance to the delivery of humanitarian supplies. He further stressed the cooperation extended to this joint operation by neighbouring countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He provided information on the operations of the MIF activities which he described as being very effective. Overall since the commencement of its operations, the MIF has conducted more than 23,000 queries, resulting in more than 10,000 boardings and more than 600 diversions of ships. In 1996 alone, 440 boardings were conducted which resulted in 61 diversions. He expressed major concern over what he termed as an emerging pattern of sanctions violations by a number of ships which are smuggling gas and oil from Iraq. He added that these violations were taking place inside Iranian territorial waters, thus, skirting the MIF operations. He explained how these activities were taking place and pointed out that continued resolve from the international community was necessary to end such practices.

With regard to the implementation of Security Council resolution 986 (1995), the Vice Admiral stated that, while the monitoring of the outflow of oil has been running smoothly, the challenge for the MIF would be the inflow of approved shipments of humanitarian goods to the port of Umm Qasr. Following necessary consultations, a modus operandi has been agreed between

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the secretariat of the 661 Committee and the MIF for necessary coordination and liaison in the context of the implementation of that resolution.

The Chairman and the members of the Committee expressed their appreciation to Vice Admiral Fargo for his presentation, as well as to his colleagues with the MIF for their efforts to monitor and enforce effectively the sanctions regime. They expressed the hope that the dialogue between the Committee and the MIF would continue on a regular basis. The Chairman of the Committee urged all Member States to comply fully with the relevant Security Council resolutions and pledged the Committee's continued cooperation with the MIF to ensure the success of its operations.

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