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|Wednesday, July 11, 2001, updated at 08:57(GMT+8)|
Iraq Resumes Oil Exports Under UN "Oil-for-Food" ProgramFollowing a six-week suspension, Iraq has re-started its petroleum exports under the United Nations humanitarian program which allows Baghdad to use a portion of its oil revenues to purchase relief goods, a United Nations spokesman announced Tuesday.
"Iraq has resumed pumping oil this morning under the United Nations 'oil-for-food program,'" the UN spokesman, Fred Eckhard, told a press conference here. Exports had been suspended since June 4.
Over the past week, oil overseers approved a new oil purchase contract for 2 million barrels of Iraqi crude, according to the UN office which oversees the humanitarian relief effort. There are currently 178 approved oil contracts covering 580 million barrels of oil.
During the same period, the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq freed up five contracts worth 7.56 million US dollars, while placing on hold 50 new contracts valued at 93.3 million dollars, the Office of the Iraq Program said. The total value of "holds" now stands at more than 3. 4 billion dollars.
Iraq and the United Nations Monday have exchanged letters to finalize an agreement to extend the oil-for-food program for 150 days, which ends in late November, a U.N. spokesman announced here.
This is the 10th phase of the oil program that began in December 1996 when Iraq and the United Nations reached an agreement to sell oil under U.N. supervision as a way to buy food and medicines for its people and repay Gulf War victims, particularly Kuwaitis.
In the ninth phase of program, which ended on June 3, Iraq waited two weeks after the Security Council approval before starting exports. And once it began exports in mid-December last year, it took six weeks to reach as high as 1.9 million barrel per day (bpd) and three months before topping 2 million bpd.
Last week, the Security Council voted unanimously to keep the oil program unchanged with the new phase running from July 4 to November 30.
In early June, Baghdad suspended its oil exports to protest a British-U.S. proposal to revise the sanction regime, saying that the proposal is offered under the pretext of humanitarian concerns, but its real aim is to worsen the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
The effort was shot down by Russia, which threatened a veto in the U.N. Security Council. Russia is one of the five permanent members which has veto power on the 15-nation council.
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