Iraqi leadership demands end to sanctions, raising threat of new crisis

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Raising the threat of a new crisis over U.N. arms inspections, Iraq demanded Thursday that the Security Council lift economic sanctions when it meets this month to review the status of Baghdad’s weapons program.
But U.N. officials said there was little chance the council will do so when it meets, possibly the week of April 27.
That is the main condition for the council to lift the sanctions imposed in 1990 after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s troops invaded Kuwait, triggering the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
In Baghdad, however, the ruling Revolution Command Council declared Thursday that “the time has come for the discussion of the embargo at the end of April” to consider lifting the sanctions “immediately and with no delay.”
The official Iraqi News Agency said that following a meeting chaired by Saddam, the ruling council declared that those who oppose ending the embargo “would bear the responsibility of the future crisis and what comes to hurt our people.”
Despite the embargo, Iraq has been allowed to export $2.14 billion worth of oil every six months to buy food and medicine. The Security Council voted to increase that to $5.26 billion in June.
But a team of experts working for the United Nations said Thursday that Iraq’s petroleum industry is in such a “deplorable state” that it cannot meet the $5.26 target.
Annan told the Security Council that Iraq needed about $300 million worth of spare parts and equipment to upgrade its oil facilities, and urged diplomats to authorize their purchase.