Iraq gets green light to export oil
December 9, 1996
Web posted at: 10:15 p.m. EST (1515 GMT)
From Correspondent Richard Roth
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations gave Iraq the go-ahead Monday to resume the oil-for-food deal, allowing Iraq, for the first time since the 1990 Gulf War, limited export of oil to buy food and medicine for Iraqis suffering from the effects of international sanctions.
"It's a good day to hear those news," said Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon, "that Iraq will again be back to the oil market after more than six years."
Overjoyed Iraqis poured into the streets of the country's major cities, dancing and firing guns into the air.
International sanctions have prohibited Iraq from exporting oil since the invasion of Kuwait that triggered the Gulf War.
The United Nations agreed to allow limited oil exports to
alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. World health officials said thousands of Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition because of the sanctions.
U.N. officials said Iraq was free to begin limited oil exports at 12:01 a.m. EST Tuesday. "This is a victory for the poorest of the poor of Iraq, for the women and children," U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said.
But the U.S. State Department vowed that the oil sales does not mean an end to sanctions against Iraq.
Iraq will be allowed to sell up to $2 billion worth of oil for the first six months under strict international supervision.
About 260 companies from 25 countries have officially expressed interest in bidding for Iraqi oil contacts, U.N. officials said.
Four petroleum executives from the United States, France, Russia and Norway have been hired by the United Nations to approve Iraqi oil contracts, and the U.S. Treasury Department has given U.S. firms permission to bid for the contracts.
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