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Rosemary Hollis
Head of the Middle East programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs
 real 28k

Monday, 21 May, 2001, 20:47 GMT 21:47 UK
Saddam rejects 'smart' sanctions
Iraqis wait in line for food distribution at a mosque in Baghdad
International santions have hurt the Iraqi people

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq has angrily rejected proposals by the United States and Britain to ease international sanctions against his country.

Washington says the measures would ease the burden on Iraq's civilian population, 11 years after the sanctions were imposed.

The alternative... is for the sanctions to be lifted

Saddam Hussein
The Iraqi leader was quoted by the official INA news agency as telling a cabinet meeting that he would "reject the so-called 'smart sanctions' which are more stupid than the (current) sanctions."

It is the first clear response to the plan by the Iraqi President.

He demanded a complete lifting of the 11-year-old embargo instead.

Russia and China, along with France, have been advocating a suspension of the sanctions.

Support for suspension?

"[The sanctions] have failed, but what is the alternative?... The alternative... is for the sanctions to be lifted," Saddam Hussein was quoted as saying.

The President said that by pushing for "smart sanctions" the United States was admitting the failure of the sanctions regime that have been in place since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein says the sanctions have failed
"Although [the sanctions] have hurt Iraq, at the same time it cost America dearly in terms of its international reputation... and it lost its good relations with the Arab people."

Under the current regime, Iraq is allowed to export oil to buy food under the UN's oil-for-food programme which is reviewed every six months.

The proposed package of restrictions would see tighter controls on arms, coupled with a relaxation of measures controlling civilian goods imports.

Key members of the United Nations Security Council were due to discuss the proposals later on Monday.

Russia and China are expected to raise doubts that a resolution could be adopted before the next phase of the humanitarian programme begins on 4 June.

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See also:

17 May 01 | Middle East
Allies plan to ease Iraqi sanctions
27 Feb 01 | Middle East
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16 May 01 | Middle East
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06 May 01 | Middle East
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05 Mar 01 | Middle East
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