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Iraq vows to reject "smart" sanctions, braces for showdown


AFP/ Iraq vowed Sunday to reject any Security Council resolution on "smart" sanctions and to keep United Nations-supervised oil exports off the world market, as President Saddam Hussein warned a new showdown was looming.

"Iraq is defending its future, dignity, sovereignty and the right to an honorable life, all of which is not subject to compromise or flexibility," said Babel, an official daily run by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday.

The Security Council is expected to put British and U.S. proposals for a revision of sanctions to the vote at the start of July. Iraq on June 4 already suspended most of its oil exports in protest at smart sanctions.

"If the resolution is adopted, Iraq will not implement it and there will be no Iraqi oil on the international market," said Babel.

It warned that Iraq's neighbors -- in reference to Jordan, Turkey and Syria -- would be left with "no economic and oil interests with Iraq" if they fell in line with smart sanctions.

"Those who bow to American orders aimed at harming Iraq and its people must bear the responsibility and pay the price for their interests in Iraq that no one will be able to compensate," said Babel.

Saddam has warned that a new showdown was looming with the West.

"We are on the eve of a new confrontation. That is why it is our duty to be prepared for it," the president said during a cabinet meeting Saturday to discuss the smart sanctions.

"When the confrontation comes..., Iraq will emerge the victor because it has right on its side and because the battle, one of national independence, is honorable," he said.

In a meeting Sunday with two former UN aid coordinators for Iraq who resigned in protest at the continuing sanctions, Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Baghdad would oppose what he called the "colonialist" project of smart sanctions.

"It's a colonialist resolution aimed at placing Iraq under a protectorate and tutelage, with the Security Council and United Nations as cover," he charged, quoted by the official news agency INA.

"Iraq will oppose the project and it is sure of emerging victorious from this battle with the United States and its allies," Aziz said to Germany's Hans von Sponeck, who resigned from his UN post in 2000, and Denis Halliday of Ireland, his predecessor who stepped down in 1998.

The former UN coordinators have warned that smart sanctions would only add to the hardships of Iraq's 22-million population living under embargo.

Britain, with U.S. backing, has put forward a draft that would abolish the embargo on civilian trade with Iraq, while tightening a weapons ban and controls on smuggling outside a UN oil-for-food deal.

"The main goal of the enemy is to break Iraq's national will and colonize us with new methods and under new names," Saddam said.

A foreign ministry official, meanwhile, said Iraq no longer considers itself bound by the oil-for-food programm after the Security Council renewed the humanitarian deal for one month rather than the normal six-month term.

Experts from the key Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. -- will meet on June 12 and 13 to discuss British-U.S. and Russian proposals on sanctions, Russia's Interfax news agency said Saturday.

Baghdad, June 10 (AFP) -

-- Martin Thompson (, June 11, 2001

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