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Iraq vows to stop oil exports



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq says it will stop exporting oil from its Persian Gulf and Mediterranean terminals on Monday.

The move follows the United Nations Security Council's decision on Friday to approve a one-month extension of the Iraqi oil-for-food programme instead of the normal six months.

This programme allows Baghdad to spend oil revenues on humanitarian goods by channelling the money through a U.N.-controlled account.

The extension was intended to give Security Council members more time to consider a U.S.-British proposal to modify economic sanctions.

Baghdad's announcement was made on Saturday by the official Iraqi News Agency, quoting an Oil Ministry spokesman. The decision will take effect 8 a.m. local time, the agency added.

"Iraq will stop oil exports under the oil-for-food programme in light of the noncompliance of the Security Council with the spirit and minutes of the memorandum (oil-for-food programme)," the spokesman said.

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In a rare show of unity on Iraq, the Security Council voted 15-0 to adopt the resolution.

In Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz called in ambassadors from China, Russia, and Tunisia before the vote and told them that Iraq will reject the extension. Iraq has already said it will not accept the proposed new British sanctions scheme.

In the resolution, the council expressed its intention to consider new arrangements for the sale of humanitarian goods to Iraq, and to adopt the new measures by July 4.

Britain's original intention had been to wrap the new proposals into a six-month extension of the oil-for-food programme, which expires June 4.

In addition to lifting the embargo on civilian products, the resolution allows civilian flights to resume flying into Iraq without the approval of the Iraq sanctions committee.

The goal, British and U.S. diplomats say, is to reduce the number of items blocked by the sanctions committee from entering Iraq, allieviating the suffering of the Iraqi population.

Iraq's neighbours, Jordan, Turkey and Syria, would be allowed to import 150,000 barrels of oil a day under the British plan.

Diplomats were grappling on Friday with how to compensate Iraq's neighbours if Baghdad does cut off oil supplies to them in retaliation for their support of the resolution.

One idea under discussion is to take some account money used to compensate Kuwaiti victims of the Gulf War, and divert it to those countries cut off from Iraqi oil.

Diplomats hope the new plan would cut into the huge sums --- one estimate is $3 billion annually -- that Iraq earns outside the oil-for-food programme from smuggling, oil surcharges and other fees placed on contracts.







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