Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, International Sanctions, and Illicit Trade [Updated April 16, 2003]   [open pdf - 95KB]

"The 'oil-for-food' program has been the centerpiece of a long-standing U.N. Security Council effort to alleviate human suffering in Iraq while maintaining key elements of the Gulf war-related sanctions regime. In order to ensure that Iraq remains contained and that only humanitarian needs are served by the program, U.N. Security Council resolutions have mandated substantial controls on Iraqi oil exports and humanitarian imports. All Iraqi oil revenues earned under the program are held in a U.N.-controlled escrow account and were not accessible to the regime of Saddam Hussein. Prior to the 2003 war, there has been a consensus among observers that the program, in operation since December 1996, has substantially eased, but not eliminated, human suffering in Iraq. Concerns about the program's early difficulties prompted criticism of the United States; critics asserted that the U.S. strategy was to maintain sanctions on Iraq indefinitely as a means of weakening Saddam Hussein's grip on power. At the same time, growing regional and international sympathy for the Iraqi people resulted in a pronounced relaxation of regional enforcement -- or even open defiance -- of the Iraq sanctions. The United States argued that continued sanctions were critical to preventing Iraq from acquiring equipment that could be used to reconstitute banned weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1472, adopted March 28, 2003, restarts and adjusts the program to enable it to serve as a vehicle to provide humanitarian relief for the wartime period and lays the groundwork to continue the program into the post-war period. The program had been suspended on the eve of the March 17, 2003 start of hostilities against Iraq."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30472
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://www.fpc.state.gov/
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