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Iraq: UN starts using new procedures for aid deliveries under oil-for-food scheme

Iraq: UN starts using new procedures for aid deliveries under oil-for-food scheme

Benon Sevan
The United Nations has started using new procedures to speed the delivery of humanitarian aid to Iraq, according to the head of the office running the oil-for-food scheme which allows Baghdad to use a portion of its petroleum revenues to purchase relief supplies.

"By necessity, the Office of the Iraq Programme will be applying the revised procedures adopted by resolution 1409 (2002) gradually, with a view of having [them] fully in place no later than 15 July," Benon Sevan told the Security Council today in closed session. The text of his remarks was made available after the meeting.

Under resolution 1409, States can more quickly process contracts on all goods that are not directly subject to the sanctions in place since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and are not referenced on a Goods Review List. Applications will first go to the Office, which will forward them to experts from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine whether the contract in question contains any item covered by the sanctions or included on the List. All applications containing any military goods will be rejected, while experts will pay particular attention to so-called "dual-use" items, namely those that might have both civilian and military applications.

Mr. Sevan told the Council today that both UNMOVIC and the IAEA have taken steps to implement the resolution, including recruiting extra staff for this purpose. "We are sparing no effort in ensuring the prompt and effective implementation of all the tasks entrusted to us," he said. "I remain fully confident that together with UNMOVIC and the IAEA, we will meet the challenge."

At the same time, the Executive Director emphasized that the Council's sanctions panel on Iraq - called the 661 committee for the resolution which established it - must "spare no efforts" to resolve issues concerning the cost of Iraqi oil. "Unless the question of the pricing mechanism for setting the price of Iraqi crude oil is resolved urgently, all other efforts and decisions taken to expedite the approval of humanitarian supplies for Iraq may unfortunately remain academic," he cautioned.

Reporting on the situation in Iraq's three northern governorates, where the UN implements the oil-for-food programme on behalf of the Government, Mr. Sevan predicted an abundant crop yield this year. "We need to work out a solution whereby farmers can be allowed to market their harvest and draw the well-deserved benefits from the bumper harvest, without violating the provisions of relevant Security Council resolutions," he said.

Also today, a UN spokesman reported that the Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and the Government of Iraq on the oil-for-food programme had been extended through an exchange of letters on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Iraq Programme today reported that over the past week, Baghdad exported 9 million barrels of crude, earning an estimated €220 million (euros) or $205 million.