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
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot