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UN: Resolution Spells Out U.S. Control Of Iraqi Oil Revenues, With Supporting UN Role

  • Robert McMahon

The United Nations Security Council today will consider a draft resolution calling for Iraqi sanctions to be lifted and the country's oil revenues to be placed under the control of the U.S.-led coalition. The proposal does not give the UN the leading role in postwar Iraq sought by some council members. Instead, it calls for the UN to help facilitate reconstruction and political reforms and coordinate humanitarian aid. RFE/RL reports from the UN.

United Nations, 9 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has proposed lifting nonmilitary UN sanctions on Iraq and giving the U.S.-led coalition control over oil revenues.

The U.S. draft resolution on postwar Iraq, distributed to key UN Security Council members, was formally circulated in the council today. The resolution, obtained by RFE/RL, lays out a blueprint for various international actors to guide the reconstruction of Iraq for a 12-month period. It assigns a primary role to the U.S.-led coalition, as occupying powers of Iraq, in administering the country, spending oil revenues to benefit Iraqis, and providing security.

It calls for the occupying powers and a UN special coordinator to help the Iraqi people form an interim authority to run the country until a permanent government is established. No timetable is given for that process.

Russia and France, two of the main opponents of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, have proposed suspending sanctions until UN inspectors have verified Iraq's disarmament.

U.S. officials this week have described a new spirit of cooperation among council members. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte yesterday expressed hopes for an agreement on the resolution's main points.

"We're certainly hopeful that everybody is going to enter into this discussion in a constructive and forward-looking spirit so that we can get on with the question of freeing the Iraqi economy, helping them take steps towards the establishment of a democratic political system so that the process of reconstruction of that country can get launched," Negroponte said.

The draft resolution calls for the United Nations to administer the oil-for-food program for four more months, using funds already committed for contracted goods. Those funds are estimated at about $12 billion.

The eight-year-old program has placed Iraqi oil revenues in a UN-controlled escrow account to pay for humanitarian goods, oil infrastructure repairs, and compensation for damages caused to other states in the first Gulf War.

A council resolution is considered essential in giving Iraqi or U.S.-controlled entities in Baghdad the legal authority to export oil.

The oil-for-food program is due to expire on 3 June. "There's no reason why a resolution lifting the sanctions on Iraq should take a prolonged period of time to discuss, and we think that this should be accomplished within the next couple of weeks," Negroponte said.

Existing council resolutions call for the UN inspection mission known as UNMOVIC to verify the elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before sanctions can be suspended. But Negroponte said the U.S.-led coalition has taken over the inspection process and that Washington does not see a role for UNMOVIC "for the foreseeable future."

The U.S. draft to be considered today does outline a series of roles for the UN beyond basic humanitarian assistance. It asks UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a special representative for Iraq who would be responsible for coordinating humanitarian assistance and reconstruction activities.

That official would have some of the functions of UN special representatives in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Those functions include encouraging international assistance in rebuilding the civilian police force, promoting judicial and legal reform, and restoring government institutions.

Under the U.S. proposal, one of the key UN roles would be to serve on an international advisory board for a new entity known as the Iraqi Assistance Fund, which would hold all Iraqi oil revenues. Other representatives on the fund's advisory board would be from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The Iraqi Assistance Fund would be audited by independent public accountants chosen by the advisory board.

The resolution says funds from that account should be disbursed at the direction of the U.S.-led coalition for the humanitarian and reconstruction needs of the Iraqi people.

There is no mention in the draft of a peace stabilization force currently taking shape. Bulgaria's UN ambassador, Stefan Tafrov, whose country is contributing to the stability force, told RFE/RL he is not aware of any plans to ask for a Security Council mandate for the force. Poland this week said it wants such a mandate.

Tafrov, whose country is a nonpermanent council member, said there has been a clear shift in the atmosphere compared to the divisions on the council prior to the war.

"I think there is a lot of constructive spirit in the council. I think that the readiness to discuss all those issues in a constructive way, and we are certainly going to contribute to this spirit," Tafrov said.

Ambassadors from most council states declined to speak to reporters yesterday, saying they would await the circulation of the resolution and citing talks in their capitals.

U.S. State Department officials this week have held high-level talks with officials from Russia, Germany, Pakistan, and Mexico.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said after meeting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes yesterday that Moscow expects the United Nations to play a central role in postwar Iraq. He also repeated that sanctions against Iraq can be lifted only in compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iraqi disarmament.

The United States today is expected to explain the resolution to council members. Detailed negotiations on the draft are likely to begin next week.

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