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Iraq Wants Saddam-Era UN Sanctions Lifted


Two days after his country voted in historic elections, Iraq's U.N. ambassador Samir Sumaidaie called on the Security Council to put an end to what he called the "burdens" placed on the previous regime.

"We are now a new country with new orientation, new politics, and a new general direction that is much more internationally friendly," he said. "We have declared clearly to the world that we want to be at peace with neighbors, we don't want to pose any threat to anyone, and therefore the sanctions and the remnants of sanctions that were put on previous regime are anachronistic and inappropriate."

When asked what burdens he would like to see removed, he immediately pointed to the U.N. weapons inspections unit that was established to make sure that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction.

"And that's funded by Iraqi money," he said. "It's generally acknowledged that Iraq now does not pose such a threat and in its present form does not have any weapons of mass destruction, and therefore to continue to fund a bureaucracy, to do what? To just continue to say every day that they have found nothing. I think we should work toward closing these files and unburden Iraq of the legacy of Saddam's rule."

U.N. officials say UNMOVIC has a budget of about $12 million a year. The inspectors were ordered out of Iraq nearly two years ago, and the unit is in limbo while the Security Council decides what to do with it.

Ambassador Sumaidaie said it is also time to start phasing out the use of oil proceeds to compensate victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and to lift the arms embargo that was passed shortly afterward.

A percentage of Iraqi oil proceeds is still being used to pay off claims of losses caused by the Kuwait invasion. A compensation commission has reportedly received more than $350 billion in claims, and has approved payment of more than $51 billion.

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