UN green light for Iraq nuclear drive
United Nations, December 16, 2010
The UN Security Council yesterday gave Iraq the green light to develop a civilian nuclear programme, ending 19-year-old restrictions aimed at preventing the country from developing atomic weapons.
In two other resolutions, the 15-nation council also wound up the controversial oil-for-food programme for Iraq and set June 30, 2011, to end all immunities protecting Baghdad from claims related to the period when former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was in power.
"The adoption of these important resolutions marks the beginning of the end of the sanctions regime and restriction on Iraq's sovereignty, independence and recovery," Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari was quoted as saying in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
After its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq was hit with a series of UN measures that banned imports of chemicals and nuclear technology that could be used in its covert atomic, chemical and biological weapons programmes.
Baghdad will keep paying five per cent of its oil revenues as war reparations, most of it to Kuwait, despite Iraq's calls for a renegotiation of those payments so it can use more of its oil money for needed development projects.
Iraq still owes Kuwait nearly $22 billion in reparations, Western diplomats said.
In a statement read out by US Vice-President Joe Biden, the council welcomed improvements in Iraq's relations with Kuwait and encouraged it to "quickly fulfil its remaining obligations.
Diplomats said this included Iraq's recognition of the borders of Kuwait, a country that Saddam's government had called the "19th province" of Iraq. There are also unresolved issues related to Kuwaiti archives and missing people.
Biden, who chaired the meeting in Washington's capacity as the rotating Security Council president, said the moves were "in recognition of Iraq's commitment to non-proliferation."
The council lifted the restrictions even though Iraq's parliament has yet to ratify the IAEA protocol. – TradeArabia News Service