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Ewan Buchanan, UN arms inspection spokesman
"We are trying within our limited means to try to keep an eye on what is going on"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 June, 2001, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK
Iraq 'by-passing sanctions'
Iraqi oil pumping station
Iraq "uses proceeds from smuggled oil to buy arms"
By Greg Barrow

The Iraqi Government has had little difficulty in securing the material it needs to rebuild weapons sites despite United Nations sanctions, a report says.

The report by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control says new sanctions, which are currently under discussion, will only work if weapons manufacturers in eastern Europe and countries bordering Iraq agree to enforce them.

Effect of sanctions in Iraq
The current sanctions have brought hardship to many Iraqis
Britain and the United States are pushing the new sanctions regime, which they say would lift the burden from the Iraqi people, and increase the pressure on the Iraqi Government.

But the Wisconsin Project report suggests all of this work may be in vain, as the Iraqi Government has developed a highly sophisticated smuggling network which has made a nonsense of the whole idea of sanctions.

Illicit trade

The Wisconsin Project says the Iraqis often use businessmen in Jordan to buy weapons components from Eastern European defence manufacturers.

The components are paid for with the proceeds of smuggled Iraqi oil, and appear to be destined for Jordan, but when they arrive they are driven across the Iraqi border in trucks.

United Nations weapons monitors admit this is a problem.

The authors of the Wisconsin Project report say that sanctions will continue to be abused for as long as countries neighbouring Iraq fail to enforce them.

But at the moment, there is little incentive for countries like Jordan and Syria to tighten the screws on Iraq, because the country is a welcome source of cheap oil smuggled outside the terms of the UN's oil-for-food programme.

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See also:

05 Jun 01 | Middle East
UN debates Iraq sanctions
16 May 01 | Middle East
Iraq's neighbours warned on sanctions
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