The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved an extension of the Iraq "oil-for-food" program with a pledge to substantially modify it in six months.
The resolution was the result of an agreement between the United States and Russia. Under terms of the resolution, the program in which Iraq sells oil to raise money for food and other humanitarian supplies, is extended for six months.
However, the Council pledges to implement, on May 30, a list of goods that Iraq would not be allowed to purchase without Security Council approval. That list would contain so-called "dual use" items that could be used for either civilian or military applications. Iraq would be free to import any item not on the list.
The changes had been proposed by Britain and the United States last June but were then blocked by Russia. In exchange for Russian support on the latest resolution, the United States agreed the Council will study ways to clarify the conditions under which all sanctions against Iraq could be lifted.
Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov says the lifting of sanctions would have to involve the return of U.N. arms inspectors to Iraq. "The only way to really solve the situation in Iraq is to make sure that international monitoring resumes in Iraq in conjunction with the suspension and lifting of sanctions," he said. "For this to happen, criteria for the lifting [of sanctions] must be specified and must be unambiguous."
United States ambassador John Negroponte told reporters the resolution is a "very important step forward" because the Security Council has now reached consensus in its approach to Iraq.