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Iraq Agrees to Resume Oil-for-Food Program

July 06, 2001|From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — Iraq will resume oil exports after a monthlong halt and has accepted the terms of a new Security Council resolution extending the U.N. "oil-for-food" program, Iraq's ambassador said Thursday.

But although Mohammed Douri said that "everything will be normalized," Iraq did not sign off on a memorandum of understanding extending the humanitarian food program for five months.

Douri said the delay could last a week and was due to "a minor technical issue" that would not throw the resumption of oil sales off track.

Iraq halted exports June 4 to protest a U.S.-British proposal to overhaul economic sanctions imposed on the oil-rich nation after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Douri indicated earlier that Iraq would shortly restore its oil exports to a normal level of about 2 million barrels a day. According to U.N. estimates, the oil-for-food program has lost $1.3 billion in the four weeks since Iraq stopped its oil sales.

Facing a veto by Russia--Iraq's key ally on the Security Council--Britain and the United States dropped their proposal for streamlined sanctions Tuesday and supported a simple extension of the oil-for-food program, a move that Baghdad had demanded before it would restart its oil exports.

Created in 1996 as an exemption to sanctions against Iraq, the program allows Baghdad to export oil to purchase food, medicine and other essentials and pay war reparations.

Immediately after the vote, Douri said Iraq needed time to study the resolution before making a decision.

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