BAGHDAD - Two former U.N. officials Sunday
condemned a U.S.-British proposal to revamp 11-year-old U.N.
sanctions on Baghdad as a move which amounted to increased
punishment for the Iraqi people.
Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who have both headed
the U.N. humanitarian program or oil-for-food deal, told
reporters the proposed ``smart'' sanctions were designed to
extend an embargo imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of
``They (smart sanctions) are intended to create an
open-ended opportunity to sustain an embargo,'' said Halliday,
who quit as head of the oil-for-food program in 1998 and has
since been a vocal critic of the sanctions.
Former top U.N. official Hans von Sponeck speaks during a news conference in Baghdad Sunday, June 17, 2001. Sponeck along with former U.N. officer Dennis Halliday called Sunday on an end to sanctions against Iraq, calling them "genocidal" and "a crime against humanity." Portrait of President Saddam Hussein is seen in the background. (AP Photo/Jassim Mohammed)
``We have very carefully studied the draft resolution. We
find it a provocation and an intensified punishment of a people
for a crime they have never committed,'' said von Sponeck, a
German career U.N. official. He resigned from the same post
last year, criticizing the sanctions' effects on ordinary
The U.N. Security Council is debating an Anglo-American
draft resolution that would ease sanctions on civilian imports
to Iraq and tighten the ban on military goods.
The council is working toward a self-imposed deadline of
July 3 to adopt the new resolution. Russia, Iraq's closest ally
in the Security Council, has signaled its objections.
The resolution also seeks to stop smuggling, worth about $1
billion a year, and have the monies paid to a separate account
rather than to Baghdad directly.
``If the Americans and the British were able to close down
(Iraq's) borders with Turkey, Syria and Jordan, that will deny
Iraq a source of hard currency outside the so-called oil-for-
food program. And it is that extra money which is being used to
begin the process of getting people back to work,'' Halliday
Iraq sells oil to neighboring Jordan, Syria and Turkey
outside the oil-for-food deal, providing funds directly to
Baghdad. Iraqi sales under the oil pact go to a U.N. escrow
account to pay for food, medicine and other humanitarian needs.
Baghdad fears the new proposals would solidify rather than
ease the sanctions. It cut off oil supplies on June 4 in
protest and threatened to stop selling oil to its neighbors if
they cooperated with the new plan.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June
14, Jordan appealed to the Security Council to drop plans to
overhaul sanctions, saying its economy would be devastated if
trade was halted. Iraqi media said Syria had also voiced its
concern over the new resolution in a letter to Annan.
Turkey last week sent its foreign ministry under-secretary
to Baghdad, where he was told by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister
Tareq Aziz that Ankara would suffer severe consequences if it
implemented the new resolution.
Halliday and von Sponeck accused Washington and London of
misleading public opinion by saying the new proposals would
ease the plight of the Iraqi people.
``We see headlines in the media in London saying 'sanctions
have been lifted on Iraq' but this, of course, is simply not
true,'' Halliday said.
Both former U.N. officials are touring countries lobbying
for an end to the sanctions.
``Only a full lifting of economic sanctions will let Iraqis
have a chance to live a normal life again,'' von Sponeck said.
Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited