23 April 1996

Press Briefing



The Committee established to monitor the sanctions against Iraq would now be holding briefings after its meetings as a way of keeping the press informed, Committee Chairman Tono Eitel (Germany) said at the first of those briefings, held yesterday afternoon at Headquarters. Since the United Nations talks with the Iraqi Government on the "oil-for-food" formula had not produced any result so far, the Committee had proceeded with its normal business, which he reviewed for correspondents.

The Committee had the sad duty of reviewing the impact of the embargo on Iraqi citizens, he said. The report from the Iraqis on that matter showed huge increases in the incidence of such problems as mortality and diabetes. As a result, the Committee had expressed its hope that the oil-for-food negotiations would lead to an improvement of the situation.

Yesterday afternoon, Switzerland had asked whether money from the escrow account controlled by the Committee and its sub-account was available for certain payments, Mr. Eitel said. Since two of the Committee members did not agree on how to answer that question, it could not be dealt with.

The Department for Development Support and Management Services had asked for consent to hand over to Iraqi authorities materials used in projects in Iraq after their completion, Mr. Eitel stated. When the Committee had asked the Department for further information, the Department had said that its man in Baghdad had already transferred the equipment in question to the Iraqis. So the Committee had decided to ask the Department to see that such unapproved transfers would not happen again.

Mr. Eitel also discussed Committee decisions regarding coupons provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the purchase of UNESCO-related materials; the selection of a company to salvage two ships; and the production of an annual report which the Committee would be presenting to the Security Council. He described monies collected for the escrow account as a result of the seizure of ships and the sale of the oil they contained. For example, Saudi Arabia had sent the Committee a check of $260,000 as a result of the diversion of the ship "Fair Sky" to Saudi Arabia. The Committee would forward the money to the escrow account and would inform the Compensation Committee of the transaction.

In response to a correspondent's question, Mr. Eitel said that along with that cheque, the Saudis had submitted an accounting indicating that approximately $250,000 had already been deducted for expenses. Each nation

Iraq Sanctions Briefing - 2 - 23 April 1996

was responsible for deciding what expenses it incurred in the seizure and sale of Iraqi goods, though if anyone took offence to the deductions made, the Committee could review the matter.

Asked what would be the impact of an agreement on the oil-for-food formula on the Committee, he said that under Security Council resolution 986 (1995), which outlined the oil-for-food formula, the Committee would be charged with drafting "small print" for the agreement in close collaboration with the Secretariat.

A correspondent asked if an oil-for-food agreement would result in increased resources for the Committee, stating that its work had so far proceeded at a slow pace. Mr. Eitel said he was not aware of such criticism. If Committee decisions were coming late, however, it was because Committee members could not agree, not for lack of Secretariat staff.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.