Iraqi Oil Smuggling Increasinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
(fair use blah blah posted 17:35 MST 2000/03/05)
"Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 19:15 GMT
Iraqi oil smuggling 'increasing'
By Barbara Plett in Amman
The commander of the US navy in the Gulf says Iraqi oil smuggling has risen sharply in the past five months because of higher prices for crude.
Iraq is only authorised to export crude under an oil-for-food programme that finances imports of humanitarian supplies. The regime was imposed following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Vice-Admiral William Moore told journalists that the higher oil price was making smuggling more profitable.
He said there had been a dramatic increase since September, peaking at 400,000 tonnes in January.
He said the US-led multi-national patrol enforcing the embargo had responded by stepping up attempts to catch ships carrying illegal crude.
It stopped 19 ships last year and up to five this year, including a Russian tanker.
The vice-admiral said it was difficult to catch the smugglers because they use Iranian territorial waters where the multi-national force cannot go.
The ships are loaded at the southern Iraqi city of Basra and then hug the Iranian coastline.
According to the embargo, Baghdad is only allowed to sell oil under strict UN supervision in exchange for humanitarian goods.
But it is widely reported that Iraq has long done its best to get around the sanctions by selling diesel and fuel oil through the Gulf and Turkey.
Last month, the Iraqi oil minister responded to charges of smuggling by saying it was only natural that Iraq should continue expanding economic and trade ties with other countries.
The Americans strongly criticise smuggling in the Gulf but they turn a blind eye to similar activity with Turkey. US aircraft that patrol Iraqi air exclusion zones are based in the country.
One Turkish offcial said: If the oil stops then we are not happy and if we are not happy, then the whole show stops."
-- firefly (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 05, 2000