The participants of the international discussion “Russia-Iraq: Economic Cooperation,” which took place in Moscow on Monday, stood against toughening the sanctions against Iraq.
Russia was represented by the spokesmen for the Russian Federal Assembly, for the presidential administration, the Russian government, and several ministerial departments. Iraq was represented by President of the Community for friendship, peace, and solidarity Abdel Razzak al-Hashemi and spokesmen for four ministries.
As RIA Novosti informed, the resolution, which was approved at the end of the session, said that the USA and Great Britain are going to present a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on December 3, 2001. This resolution will considerably toughen the sanctions regime imposed against Iraq. If the UN Security Council passes this resolution, then it will cause serious damage to the economic interests of both Iraq and Russia.
Iraq is world’s number two producer of crude after Saudi Arabia, but the UN resolutions restrain its free operation. The operating humanitarian oil-for-food program does not allow Iraq to sell its oil over the norms set by the UN. The sold crude is often used for purchasing food and medicines for the Iraqi population and a lion’s share is used to reimburse the American costs for its war in the Persian Gulf .
Iraq gave the carte blanche to Russian companies for the development of Iraqi deposits, and, therefore, it is Russia that is interested in the withdrawal of the sanctions against Iraq. The prime cost of the extraction of Iraqi crude is very low and the reserves are huge. If Russia is allowed to operate freely in terms of the extraction of Iraqi crude, then the sales income will make up not five or six dollars but much more. In addition, one should bear in mind that Iraq has repeatedly said that if there is a positive economic conjuncture, then it is ready to pay back its debts to Russia, and the sum is far from being small. This is another reason why we should support Iraq.
If the cooperation between Russia and Iraq will be suspended or wrapped up at all, then this will lead to a loss for Russia regarding its on Iraq and Russia’s ability to exert influence on the situation in the Persian Gulf will weaken.
Washington's and London's position is clear. A military operation against Iraq was about to cause a split in NATO. That is why Washington started talking about making the sanctions tougher. A project like that has already been submitted to the UN Security Council (in July of the current year), but Russia was absolutely against it. Such an approach allowed Russia to take a priority position on the Iraqi market and sign extra contracts to the sum of $800 million as of October of the current year. It is not yet clear what is going to happen this time. If Russia vetos the American suggestions, then it risks destroying the fragile mutual understanding that has appeared between Russia and theUSA. At any rate, this decision will be like a test to check Russian-American relations. We shall wait and see. -dos-
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Reuters photo: The Foreign Minister of Iraq, Naji Sabri (L) meets with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan during the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, November 14, 2001