Security Council extends oil-for-food programme for Iraq by one week, pending further consideration

News and Press Release
Originally published
Press Release SC/6767 - 19991203
Resolution 1280 (1999) Adopted by 11-0-3; France, Not Voting, Says Text Not Practicable, Being Used to Apply Pressure

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Security Council this afternoon extended the programme of humanitarian assistance to Iraq known as "oil-for-food" for one week, until 11 December. The Council took that action when it adopted resolution 1280 (1999) by a vote of 11 in favour with 3 abstentions (China, Malaysia and Russian Federation.). France did not participate in the vote.

Explaining his decision not to participate in the vote, the representative of France said the resolution could not be implemented. It was being used to bring pressure on the members of the Council for another purpose.

The representative of the Netherlands said that it was highly unusual to not participate in the vote. Non-permanent members of the Council would not do so, as they would be unable to explain their behaviour to the delegations that elected them. His Foreign Minister had suggested before the General Assembly that permanent members of the Council find a means other than the veto to express profoundly negative views. Perhaps refraining from the vote was such a means.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that two weeks ago, his delegation had proposed a draft which addressed the humanitarian concerns but unfortunately, the proposal had not been taken into sufficient account by a number of delegations. Today's resolution was not in keeping with current realities in Iraq and would lead to serious interruptions in the entire humanitarian programme.

The representative of the United States said adotion of the resolution would clear the way for early action by the Council on a full six-month extension of the programme.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Malaysia, Canada, China and Namibia.

The meeting began at 5:14 p.m. and adjourned at 5:47 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. When it last met on this subject's on 19 November, the Council extended the programme of humanitarian assistance to Iraq known as "oil for food" until 4 December, on resolution 1275 (1999). The programme allows Iraq to sell oil to purchase humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people.

On 4 October, the Council had authorized States to permit the import of petroleum and petroleum products originating in Iraq up to an additional sum of $3.04 billion for the 180-day period constituting phase VI, which began on 25 May. The amount of that increase was equivalent to the total shortfall of revenue authorized but not generated in earlier phases of the programme, under resolutions 1210 (1998) and 1153 (1998). Prior to the increase, Iraq was authorized to export oil up to a value of $5.26 billion within a 180-day period.

The Council had before it a report of the Security Council Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) concerning the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. According to the report, which is contained in a letter dated 17 November from the Chairman of the Committee (document S/1999/1177), the export of petroleum has proceeded smoothly since the beginning of phase VI of the programme, with excellent cooperation among the oil overseer, the independent inspection agents (Saybolt Nederland BV), the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization and the national oil purchasers.

The report states that the Committee continued to attach high priority to the work of processing contracts for the supply of humanitarian goods to Iraq. As at 10 November, the Secretariat had received 1,232 applications under phase V for exports of humanitarian supplies to Iraq. Of that total, 1,104 applications were circulated to Committee members for action, of which 892 were found eligible for payment under the Iraq Account.

During the same period of time, the Secretariat received 817 applications under phase VI for export of humanitarian goods to Iraq, 607 of which were circulated to Committee members. Of those sent to the Committee, 443 have been found eligible for payment. Members of the Committee will continue the practice of keeping under review those humanitarian contracts that have been placed on hold. The work of goods-arrival confirmation by the United Nations independent agents (Cotecna) has continued and the Iraqi authorities have accorded the agents full cooperation.

The report goes on to say that the Committee has, on a number of occasions, discussed using up to $300 million from the escrow account to supply oil spare parts. It made continuous efforts to expedite the approval process for contracts for sending oil spare parts and equipment to Iraq in accordance within existing procedures. During the period covered by the present report, the Secretariat has received 206 new applications valued at $124 million to export oil spare parts and equipment to Iraq a