Global Policy Forum

Egypt Urges Efforts

September 15, 2000

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa called in remarks published on Friday for an end to U.N. sanctions on Iraq, saying Baghdad no longer posed the threat it had done a decade ago.

"We and others see that after 10 years of sanctions and embargo, it is not possible for Iraq to be the threat that was present in 1990," Moussa told the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat in an interview in New York.

His comments appeared amid renewed tension in the Gulf after Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing its oil and Washington said it was ready to use force if Baghdad threatened its neighbors. Kuwait denied the oil theft charge, similar to accusations Baghdad leveled before its 1990 invasion of the Gulf emirate.

Moussa said it was time to modify the sanctions regime aimed at forcing Iraq to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction, but did not offer a specific formula.

"There must be a change in the scope of inspection, monitoring, embargo and interdiction," he declared. "Where is the way out...the way out that everyone accepts? He spoke of a growing Arab consensus that the status quo was unacceptable, but acknowledged Arab differences over the conditions under which the sanctions could be lifted.

The U.N. Security Council passed resolution 1284 in December 1999, making any easing of sanctions conditional on a return of U.N. arms inspectors to Iraq. Permanent members France, China and Russia abstained in the vote.

"In its present form, resolution 1284 will be difficult to implement," Moussa said. "But there is nothing to stop the U.N. secretary-general and the Security Council from looking at ways to move to the next phase of joint work with Iraq to implement the resolution to get Iraq out of this ditch." Asked about implementing mechanisms that would allow Iraq to see light at the end of the sanctions tunnel and encourage it to cooperate with Security Council resolutions, he said: "First we must affirm that there is light.

"A state of total darkness is not acceptable, nor is it acceptable to say there is only one way out of the embargo, which is resolution 1284," he said, but added that it must be respected as a Security Council resolution.

Moussa said the way forward was for the U.N. secretariat or the secretary-general or the chairman of the Security Council to start discussing how to suspend the sanctions against Iraq.

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