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Friday, June 19, 1998 Published at 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK

World: Middle East

UN approves Iraqi oil spend

UN unanimity disguised weeks of haggling

The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution allowing Iraq to spend $300m on importing spare parts to repair its oil facilities.

The move follows weeks of haggling among the UN's major powers, with the US and the UK trying to link the issue to efforts to make the so-called oil-for-food programme a more permanent arrangement.

Under that scheme, Iraq, which is currently subject to sanctions by the international community, is allowed to export $5.25bn worth of oil every six months to pay for food and humanitarian supplies.

The BBC's UN Correspondent, Rob Watson, says although the resolution was carried unanimously, the background to the decision again revealed divisions among the major powers in their policy towards Iraq.

Spares necessary

[ image: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: sees programme as a violation of sovereignty]
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: sees programme as a violation of sovereignty
Baghdad says its oil industry has become severely run down as a result of UN sanctions and it cannot meet its oil export target without the spare parts.

Attempts by the US and UK to link the issue to the oil-for-food programme were opposed by France, Russia and China.

Like Baghdad they all argued that the humanitarian programme should not become a substitute for the eventual lifting of sanctions.

Our correspondent said the Iraqi government strongly dislikes the oil-for-food deal, seeing the UN's control over the money raised as a violation of its sovereignty and dignity.

However, the US and the UK say Baghdad's constant protests over the programme show how little the Iraqi Government cares about its people.

The UN decided to increase the amount of money Iraq could raise from oil sales from $2bn per six months to $5.25bn per six months earlier this year.

Weapons issues

Meanwhile, UN weapons inspectors have said Iraq is still refusing to give them key information on its weapons of mass destruction, despite a disarmament agreement reached in Baghdad on Sunday between the chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, and Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz.

In a report to the Security Council about his visit, Mr Butler said Iraq was still insisting it had nothing more to say about its biological warfare programme or on its attempts to produce the chemical agent VX.

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