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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 00:40 GMT 01:40 UK
UN debates Iraq sanctions
Iraqi oil refinery at Al-Basra
Iraq is cutting off oil in protest at the possible change
By Greg Barrow at the United Nations

Legal and technical experts have begun examining the details of a new United Nations sanctions regime for Iraq.

The new regime, which has been promoted by Britain and the United States, is designed to replace the UN's oil-for-food programme.

Iraq has already said it will reject any new form of sanctions and has cut off oil exports in protest.

But despite the Iraqi opposition, the president of the UN Security Council said he was still hopeful that member states would agree on the new sanctions before the end of the month.

More time

The UK and the US - the strongest backers of the new regime - had hoped it would be adopted last month.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
The US is pushing for the change
But some member states felt they needed more time to scrutinise the proposed reforms.

They agreed to roll over the old oil-for-food programme for another month while negotiations continue.

Legal and technical experts have now begun the process of examining the details of the new sanctions.

The new president of the Security Council, Ambassador Anwarul Chowhdury of Bangladesh, said he was confident that all remaining issues could be resolved within the allotted time.

Baghdad resistance

But other diplomats are less certain.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Iraq may be trying to split the council
Iraq says the imposition of new sanctions is undue interference in its sovereign affairs.

It has wasted no time in rejecting the proposals and has cut off oil exports in protest.

The move is seen by some diplomats as an attempt to divide the Security Council and to slow down the introduction of sanctions that might limit the Iraqi government's ability to earn money from oil smuggled to neighbouring countries.

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See also:

23 May 01 | Middle East
UN faces split over Iraq proposals
21 May 01 | Middle East
Saddam rejects 'smart' sanctions
27 Feb 01 | Middle East
Powell's new plans for Iraq
16 May 01 | Middle East
Iraq's neighbours warned on sanctions
05 Mar 01 | Middle East
Preparing to do business with Iraq
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