Al Maliki urges UN body to drop sanctions
Published: July 23, 2009, 20:14
United Nations: Iraq's prime minister urged the UN Security Council's most powerful members on Wednesday to cancel all sanctions and resolutions adopted after Saddam Hussain's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki said Iraq was now a democracy that posed no threat to international peace and security.
Al Maliki discussed the Iraqi government's effort to get rid of the resolutions with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and separately with the five permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. He then flew to Washington for a meeting with President Barack Obama.
The UN Security Council decided on December 22, last year, to review all Iraq-related resolutions adopted after the Kuwait invasion.
The Security Council also asked the secretary-general to consult the Iraqi government and report on facts for the council to consider in deciding what actions are needed "for Iraq to achieve the status it enjoyed prior to the adoption of such resolutions."
Al Maliki told reporters he emphasised in Wednesday's meetings that Iraq now has an elected democratic government.
"We were able to clarify to the United Nations as well as to the permanent (Security Council) countries that Iraq doesn't appear to be a threat to the international community any more," he said.
Al Maliki said that since the country posed no threat to global peace and security, the resolutions were no longer required.
The Security Council has passed more than 70 resolutions on Iraq since the Kuwaiti invasion, several imposing sanctions and requiring Iraq to pay Kuwait compensation, return looted treasures and archives, and account for missing Kuwaitis.
In May 2003, the council lifted economic sanctions, opening the country to international trade and investment and allowing oil exports to resume and in June 2004, it lifted an embargo on the sale of conventional weapons to the government.
Some activities related to the possible production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons remain on the books, and missiles with a range of more than 150km are still banned.
Al Maliki said Iraq was waiting for the secretary-general's report, which UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said "will be issued shortly."
Asked what assurances he got from the five permanent Security Council members, Al Maliki said they recognised that Iraq had made major progress in building a democratic government under a new constitution and that "dictatorship will never have time or chance to come back."
US officials have strongly backed Iraq's efforts to get rid of the resolutions, many adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is militarily enforceable.
However, council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue has not been discussed publicly, said Kuwait still has concerns and therefore a review of the resolutions would take some time.
"We think this is now an opportunity to address the Saddam-era resolutions," Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers told the Associated Press.
"There are a number of obligations on Iraq that relate to the Saddam era that we need to look at again, need to review. Some of these relate to sanctions and proliferation regimes. Some of them relate to the outstanding issues vis-à-vis Kuwait," he said.
"We hope that all the parties, and on the Kuwait issues both sides, Iraq and Kuwait, will find a way forward to build confidence and to resolve their outstanding issues," Sawers said.