US officials to propose change in Iraqi sanctions by June
The US Bush administration will propose revised sanctions against Iraq before the United Nations meets again in June to renew the existing oil-for-food program, the US Department of State said. The new Iraq policy, and removal of sanctions against Iran and Libya, may be disclosed with the administration's energy policy proposals in mid-May.
By Maureen Lorenzetti
WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 19 -- The US Bush administration will unveil a new "smart" sanction plan on Iraq before the United Nations meets again in June to renew the existing oil-for-food program, a US Department of State spokesman said this week.
"The process of, I would say, definition is under way," said spokesman Richard Boucher Apr. 18, who told reporters that new mechanisms need to be in place "by June."
Industry lobbyists anticipate the new Iraq policy will be unveiled in mid-May as part of a comprehensive energy policy initiative being orchestrated by Vice-President Dick Cheney (OGJ Online, Apr. 18, 2001). Lifting existing unilateral sanctions against Iran and Libya is also on the table.
President George W. Bush has the power to lift some direct investment and oil trading sanctions without Congress' permission. A related law, the Iran Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, which seeks to punish companies that make investments in those nations, would need to be overturned by Congress. However, the law expires this August and there is no support on Capitol Hill to renew it.
Regarding Iraq, Sec. of State Colin Powell has signaled the US would consider loosening restrictions on oil trades provided Iraq agrees to more weapons inspections.
Winning Iraq's consent may prove difficult, however. Analysts have warned Iraq may suspend its current UN-controlled exports in protest while negotiations are underway. And earlier this week, Taha Yasin Ramadan, the Iraqi vice-president, said in Moscow his country would never accept the return of inspectors to Iraq because of suspicions the UN representatives spy for the US and Israel.
State Department officials concede retooling the sanctions will not be easy, but they also suggested that the US will move forward with new sanctions proposals with or without the endorsement of the Iraqi government.
"We can do what we want. We can do what we think we need to do, with or without the cooperation for the Iraqis. It is up to the Iraqis, if they feel it necessary to prove something to show that they don't deserve this, then show us," said Boucher. "Invite the inspectors in. Don't invite the inspectors in? There is not going to be any progress on the things they want. We are just going to do what we think we need to do to keep them from threatening us."
Contact Maureen Lorenzetti at maureenl@OGJOnline.com