U.N. proposal would lift some Iraq sanctions

New agency would conduct arms inspections

June 18, 1999|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

UNITED NATIONS -- While the conflict in Kosovo has played out, diplomats have quietly been trying to address problems in another trouble spot: Iraq.

A new proposal making the rounds at the United Nations would allow suspension of some economic sanctions against Iraq if the country opens itself to inspection by a new U.N. agency.

The agency, the United Nations Commission on Inspection and Monitoring (UNCIM), would, according to a proposal being circulated by British and Dutch diplomats, take over all "assets, liabilities, staff and archives" of the controversial U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM).

The United States is supporting the resolution, which would suspend sanctions against Iraq as long as it gives UNCIM officials "unconditional and unrestricted" access to its weapons facilities and records.

The plan would lift restrictions on the amount of oil that can be sold to provide humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people. The money from oil sales would, according to the proposal, be placed in an escrow account, to be used only for humanitarian needs.

A consensus is lacking on the proposal, sources say, because some Security Council members are still hammering out differences on key issues. Russia, for example, says the plan is unrealistic and would lead to a deterioration of relations with Iraq.

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