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US to Introduce UN Resolution on Iraq Sanctions Friday - 2003-05-08

The United States will formally introduce a U.N. Security Council resolution Friday that will call for the lifting U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The proposed resolution does not lift the U.N. arms embargo.

The draft resolution circulating among Security Council members calls for the removal of all punitive economic sanctions against Iraq, and allows Iraq to resume oil exports. The resolution proposes that oil revenues be put into a special "Iraqi Assistance Fund" to support humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. Under a tough U.N. regime begun in 1996, Iraq's oil revenues have been put into a special account to pay for the oil-for-food program, which fed about 60 percent of Iraq's population. The U.N. authorization for the program expires June 3.

Council members have been discussing the issue of sanctions for weeks now with veto-wielding France and Russia, favoring a suspension of the sanctions, rather than elimination.

But U.S. ambassador John Negroponte says he expects all Security Council members to approve the new resolution well before the oil-for-food program runs out.

"We are certainly hopeful that everybody is going to enter into this discussion in a constructive and forward-looking spirit so that we can get on with the question of freeing the Iraqi economy, helping them take steps toward the establishment of a democratic political system and so that the process of reconstruction of that country can get launched," he said.

The proposed resolution phases the oil-for-food program out over a four-month period. Mr. Negroponte says a section of the resolution also provides for a central role for the United Nations in rebuilding Iraq. But whether or not the resolution will satisfy Council members who seek a strong U.N. role in Iraq's reconstruction remains to be seen.

Some Security Council members have also been calling for a return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq. But Mr. Negroponte says the U.S.-led coalition has taken over the search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and he does not foresee a role for the U.N. weapons team.

A spokesperson for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the U.N. leader is studying the proposed resolution and will be watching to see how it is received by Security Council members.