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|Wednesday, May 23, 2001, updated at 11:29(GMT+8)|
Russia Introduces Counterproposal on Iraqi SanctionsIndicating intentions to block a US-backed British proposal on Iraqi sanctions, Russia offered its own version of a draft resolution Tuesday aimed at bringing a six-month extension to the existing oil-for-food humanitarian program.
The Russian resolution, commonly seen as a counterproposal to the British, came hours after the Iraqi government officially rejected the British proposal as a "smart sanction" and threatened to suspend the U.N. oil-for-food program and halt oil exports.
The proposed resolution, which does not mention lifting the sanctions, calls for a six-month extension to the UN oil-for-food program.
It also calls for legalizing non-Iraqi passengers and cargo flights in and out of the country and allowing Iraq to use some of its oil revenues to pay its U.N. dues.
"We think that what is being discussed is the need to extend the humanitarian program, and we think the best way to do it is to extend the current phase," Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
The Russian draft would also lower from 25 to 20 the percent of Iraq's oil exports revenues directed to pay the 1991 Gulf War victims.
Russia is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with the United States, Britain, France and China.
The U.N. oil-for-food program, an exemption to the current sanctions on Iraq, allows the country to export oil to buy humanitarian supplies. It is the main source of humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people.
The volume of Iraqi oil exports since the beginning of the oil-for-food program in December 1996 now stands at over 2.46 billion barrels, for an estimated revenue of some 43.6 billion US dollars at current prices.
With the adoption of U.N. Security Council resolution 1330 on December 5, 2000, about 72 percent of oil revenues fund the humanitarian program in Iraq, 25 percent is directed to the Compensation Committee, which pays claims arising from Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The remainder goes to cover the costs of UN
operations in the country.
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