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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 16:55 GMT
Iraq 'smart sanctions' postponed
Iraqi women protest against UN sanctions in Baghdad
Many Iraqis blame the sanctions for their misery
Roger Hardy

United States' plans to overhaul UN sanctions against Iraq are likely to be delayed because of the new situation created by the 11 September attacks.

According to diplomats at the United Nations, the US wants to avoid picking a quarrel with Russia - which earlier this year blocked the introduction of what were dubbed "smart sanctions".

UN monitors at an Iraqi oil pipeline
The UN monitors Iraqi oil sales
Diplomats stress that no decision has yet been reached - but there is a growing expectation that when the sanctions against Iraq come up for renewal in early December, they will be renewed unchanged for a further six months.

The US and Britain would still like to overhaul the sanctions regime - to try to deprive the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of the propaganda argument that the existing sanctions are punishing innocent Iraqi civilians.

But Russia remains opposed to the planned changes - and in Washington and London, Russia is viewed as a valuable ally in the campaign against global terrorism.

On the agenda

US President George W Bush is likely to raise the sanctions issue when he holds a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia next week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Mr Putin is going to the Middle East
According to a Russian diplomat in the Middle East, Mr Putin will visit Iraq as part of a regional tour he is planning - though not apparently in the near future.

Such a visit would highlight the differences between the US and Russia on the Iraq issue.

Even if the current sanctions regime is extended, that does not mean that the broader issue of Iraq is off the American agenda - far from it.

A debate is still under way about what to do about Iraq's programme to develop weapons of mass destruction, and its alleged links with terrorism.

See also:

03 Jul 01 | Middle East
UN delays Iraq sanctions plan
02 Jul 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Iraq wins sanctions battle
29 Jun 01 | Middle East
Iraq outburst over UN sanctions
27 Jun 01 | Middle East
UN deadlock over Iraq sanctions
26 Jun 01 | Middle East
Russia resists new Iraq sanctions
05 Jun 01 | Middle East
UN debates Iraq sanctions
27 Feb 01 | Middle East
Powell's new plans for Iraq
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