READY TO DEAL?
FEBRUARY 7, 1996
Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports on the deterioration of life in Iraq after more than five years of sanctions.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: This was a recent scene at a mosque in Baghdad: Middle class Iraqi citizens lining up for a food handout after prayers. These people are teachers and other professionals who daily pan for gold coins alongside of one of Baghdad's bridges. The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 have had an increasingly devastating impact on its economy and population. A United Nations study estimates that half a million Iraqi children have died since the end of the Gulf War because of the sanctions. Many more are malnourished and medicine is in short supply. Every two months the U.N. Security Council reviews lifting the sanctions against Iraq, but up till now has not been convinced that Iraq has sufficiently dismantled its arms program.
SPOKESMAN: And now will those in favor of the draft resolution--
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: The deteriorating conditions in Iraq prompted the U.N. last April to renew its offer to allow Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil in order to purchase humanitarian supplies. After Resolution 986 was approved, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright challenged Saddam Hussein's regime.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.N. Ambassador: The Council has once again given Baghdad the opportunity to act in the best interests of its citizens. For their sake, we urge the government of Iraq to take advantage of this chance. In closing, Mr. President, let me make clear that this resolution would not be necessary and the Iraqi people would not be suffering if Iraq's government was not driven by ruthless ambition.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Iraq rejected the offer last spring, as it had in previous years, saying that the resolution infringed on Iraq's sovereignty. Then a few weeks ago, Iraq indicated an eagerness to begin talks. Resolution 986 allows Iraq to export $2 billion worth of oil over six months and mandates how the earnings are to be spent. One third of the income is for compensating companies and individuals displaced by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, as well as covering the costs of the U.N. arms inspection team. One hundred and thirty to one hundred and fifty million dollars is allotted to aid the Kurds living in a UN-declared safe haven in Northern Iraq after being driven from their homes. The balance would go to humanitarian supplies for Iraq. The U.N. would oversee and monitor aid to both the Kurds and the rest of Iraq. In the past, Iraq has had two specific objections to the resolution. One was the designation of aid to the Kurds. The other was the stipulation that its oil flow by pipeline through Turkey instead of by ship through an Iraqi port. The U.N. insisted on the Turkey designation so it could better monitor Iraq's exporting activity. Yesterday, Amb. Abdul Al-Anbari, Iraq's chief negotiator, arrived at the U.N. for the start of the talks and expressed some optimism.
AMB. ABDUL AL-ANBARI, Iraq: I would like to emphasize that if we are left alone, the Secretariat and the Iraq delegation, without pressure or interference from other parties, I believe we'd be able to work out a workable solution to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: The initial round of discussions are expected to continue for at least a week.