Baghdad says the latest U.N. resolution imposing tougher sanctions on Iraq will only aggravate the suffering of its people. The U.N. Security Council agreed Monday to expand the list of civilian goods to be sanctioned.
The tougher U.N. sanctions will forbid a number of items from entry into Iraq. They include drugs to protect Iraqi soldiers from poison gas and anthrax, as well as boats like those used in a deadly attack on a U.S. warship in Yemen two years ago by members of al-Qaida.
Baghdad has repeated its call for the lifting of U.N. sanctions, saying it has met all its obligations under past Security Council resolutions. It has accused the United States of double standards in choosing diplomacy with North Korea to settle a nuclear arms crisis, but opting for a military offensive against Iraq.
An analyst on Iraqi affairs, Taha Abdel Alim of the Al-Ahram Strategic Center in Cairo, says tighter sanctions, as in the past, will hurt the Iraqi people, not Saddam Hussein. "Saddam Hussein and his government actually did pay very little for these sanctions," he said, "and I do not understand how the extension of what is left of those goods that ... Iraq is not allowed to import, [how] it will hurt the regime of Saddam Hussein."
Mr. Alim says sanctions during the past 12 years did not halt potential arms development.
Meanwhile, U.N. arms inspectors hunted for banned weapons of mass destruction at seven sites in and around Baghdad, pushing ahead with a stepped up schedule.
More than 100 U.N. inspectors have been hunting for Iraq's weapons since inspections restarted at the end of November. A U.N. Security Council resolution gave Iraq one last chance to disarm or face dire consequences.