After voting for air blockade, U.N. states try to figure out just what they've done

September 27, 1990|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Sun Staff Correspondent

UNITED NATIONS -- The day after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution placing an air embargo on Iraq, confusion reigned over whether the sanctions applied to passengers or just to cargo flights.

Secretary of State James A. Baker III said he was unwilling to call passenger flights a violation of the newly adopted sanctions.

But the State Department said that "while the resolution does not in and of itself prohibit passenger flights, it has requirements and raises issues which need to be addressed."

Last night, a senior State Department official said that Tuesday's 14-1 resolution was specifically directed at cargo. However, he added, passenger flights "of a commercial nature" are prohibited by previous U.N. actions against Iraq that aim at cutting off all trade.

Jordan's government added to the confusion, at first indicating that it would bar even humanitarian flights as a result of the resolution, but later issuing a second statement saying merely that "the situation . . . will now be reviewed."

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said that he ZTC was unsure about passenger flights and that the U.N. Sanctions Committee would have to decide whether they were affected.

British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said that passenger flights "per se" were not banned under the resolution.

A spokesman for the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, said passenger flights were not included.

"Until we get clarification from New York, we are reading it as relating to cargo," he said.

"The idea is to prevent supplies, particularly military supplies."

A key section of Resolution 670 reads: "All states . . . shall deny permission to any aircraft to take off from their territory if the aircraft would carry any cargo to or from Iraq or Kuwait other than food in humanitarian circumstances, subject to authorization."

The intent of the resolution was to cut off any remaining commerce between Iraq and the outside world. A trickle of cargo was flown into Iraq -- some reportedly from Libya -- after the United States and allied nations had set up a naval embargo.

The State Department insisted that "there would be no objections to humanitarian flights to carry foreign nationals out of Iraq and Kuwait."

The senior official said last night that the United States hoped there would be additional flights to bring foreign nationals out.

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