Britain and US insist on Iraq sanctions

BY MICHAEL SHERIDAN

Diplomatic Correspondent

Britain and the United States agreed yesterday to maintain a hard line against the relaxation of sanctions on Iraq despite increasing signs of dissent by France and Russia within the United Nations Security Council and a vigorous publicity campaign by Baghdad.

Pressure to ease sanctions is mounting ahead of a regular UN review on 13 March and the latest report by the UN's arms inspector, Rolf Ekeus, who is expected to make a statement to the Security Council on Monday.

Iraqi government newspapers made great play this week of the "shaky" unity among Security Council members.

"America is cornered," said the daily Al-Iraq, while President Saddam Hussein, in poetic mood, told a cabinet meeting that "God willing, the Iraqi ship will safely sail to the other side of the river."

The regime's case was bolstered yesterday by the head of a British business delegation to Iraq, Edmund Sykes, who told the AFP news agency that "the rest of the world" was already in Baghdad, touting for a share of an estimated $150bn (£95bn) in contracts over the next decade.

Mr Sykes said Iraqi officials claimed that even American companies maintained operations in Iraq through their Far Eastern subsidiaries. Businessmen from eight countries, including France and Italy, were also in the Iraqi capital during the past fortnight.

The changing climate has prompted Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the United Nations, to embark on a foreign tour to drum up support. Speaking in London yesterday, she said the US was seeking "to pre-empt any attempt at the premature easing of sanctions". She said dealing with Iraq was "like the Thousand and One Nights - each time a different story".

Ms Albright met the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, before travelling to Muscat, Kuwait, Prague and Rome. A Foreign Office spokesman said Ms Albright and Mr Hurd saw eye to eye. "Saddam Hussein remains untrustworthy," he said, "the leopard does not change his spots."

But if harmony reigns between London and Washington, there are signs that Moscow and Paris are ready to push for sanctions to be eased to permit Iraq to export oil and rebuild its economy. Ms Albright admittedthere were differences with Moscow and Paris but said "they're wrong".

The Russian and French argument is likely to encounter opposition from Arab countries and from the UN. Kuwait's foreign minister was in London this week to urge continued measures against Iraq, citing Baghdad's failure to hand back looted equipment or account for people missing after the gulf war. Kuwait is supported by most Gulf states, Egypt and Syria.

More pertinent, perhaps, are the reports by Mr Ekeus on progress towards Iraqi disarmament and by the UN's special rapporteur on human rights. Mr Ekeus concluded another mission to Baghdad last week stating that Iraq was "too slow" in providing information about its non-conventional weapons programmes. His conclusions are unlikely to lend comfort to those urging a change in policy.

Even more damning was the latest report on human rights in Iraq presented to the UN in Geneva. The rapporteur gave a stark account of continued abuses, including random executions, torture and legalised amputations. He said there was no evidence that easing sanctions would help the ordinary Iraqi people, since any profits would end up in the hands of a clique around Saddam Hussein. He concluded that there was humanitarian case for easing sanctions.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor