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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 22:57 GMT
US accuses Iraq of arms violations
Iraqis burn US flags in protest at UN sanctions
Critics say ordinary Iraqis are paying the price for sanctions
Diplomats in New York say the United States has evidence which it says shows that Iraq has broken the terms of the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

The diplomats say that photographs taken by US spy satellites indicate that trucks imported by Iraq for civilian purposes have been converted into mobile missile launchers.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri is to discuss sanctions with Kofi Annan

The photographs are being presented during a behind-closed-doors session of the UN Security Council committee responsible for monitoring sanctions on Baghdad.

The meeting comes on the eve of a visit to New York of a high-level Iraqi delegation, which is expected to discuss sanctions with the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

The oil-for-food programme was implemented to alleviate the effects of UN sanctions imposed after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 on ordinary Iraqis.

It allows the Iraqi Government to purchase certain items with oil proceeds.

Although it is allowed to import vehicles under the agreement it is not supposed to be using them for military purposes.

Careful timing?

US diplomats say the timing of the evidence against the Iraqis is purely coincidental - but other Western diplomatic sources are reported to believe it is part of a carefully planned strategy to win international support for a renewed push to force Iraq to implement UN sanctions or face military consequences.

US President George Bush
Bush is ratcheting up support to overthrow Saddam Hussein

The Security Council has stipulated that the sanctions will not be lifted until UN inspectors establish that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and launchers have been eliminated.

They have been barred by Iraq from carrying out their investigations since they left Baghdad in December 1998 ahead of US and British air strikes.

The sanctions committee have held up $5.3bn worth of contracts with Iraq because of concerns that the goods were "dual-use" items that could be used for military purposes.

Norway's UN Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby, who heads the sanctions committee, told Reuters news agency the US wants to change the sanctions to make it more difficult for Iraq to purchase such items

See also:

01 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Britain backs US over Iraq
25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Annan to tackle Iraq over arms
01 Mar 02 | Middle East
US backs anti-Saddam radio plan
23 Feb 02 | Middle East
Saddam scorns Bush 'baby talk'
07 Mar 02 | Middle East
Iraq faces tough talks at UN
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