Thursday, May 24, 2007


U.N. Security Council approves $3 mn. transfer for Iraq

(AP) - The U.N. Security Council approved the transfer of more than $3 million in oil-for-food revenue to meet Iraq's U.N. arrears and dues. The Iraqi government requested the transfer - approved Wednesday - of funds from the escrow account for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC, which was responsible for chemical, biological and missile inspections in Iraq.
Under the U.N. oil-for-food program, Iraq was allowed to sell oil provided the proceeds went primarily to buy humanitarian goods and pay reparations from the 1991 Gulf War that followed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. But a small percentage of the money was also used to pay for weapons inspections by UNMOVIC and to buy spare parts for the oil industry.
While the program helped Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions, an independent investigation concluded it was corrupted by bureaucrats, oil tycoons and Saddam Hussein after the former Iraqi leader was allowed to choose the buyers of Iraqi oil and the sellers of humanitarian goods.
Saddam's successors have been lobbying to have the Security Council stop using the country's oil revenue to pay compensation to war victims and the salaries of U.N. weapons inspectors - and to have all money remaining in the U.N.'s oil-for-food accounts transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq. A May 7 letter from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the council indicated that the current balance in UNMOVIC's escrow account stands at about $66.4 million.
At a formal meeting Wednesday, the council approved the transfer of $2.5 million to the U.N. Industrial Development Organization to pay off the Iraqi government's arrears and another $694,771 to pay Iraq's contribution to the regular U.N. budget, the peacekeeping budget, U.N. tribunals and U.N. renovations. Once those transfers are made, the oil-for-food account will have a balance of about $63.1 million.
Council diplomats said the five permanent council members - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - are close to agreement on a plan to transfer most of the money in the escrow account to Iraq, but they have not yet agreed on how to wrap up UNMOVIC's operation. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks have been private. Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said Wednesday he expected an agreement on UNMOVIC very soon, but refused to give any details.

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