Iraq, saying its patience was wearing thin after nearly eight years of punitive U.N. sanctions, warned the Security Council Monday that it would not wait much longer for the United Nations to lift its trade embargo. Iraq’s vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan said that if the Security Council did not react positively to the open letter addressed to the Council Friday, Baghdad was ready to fight until the sanctions were lifted.
"The age of this letter is not years or months. It has a limited time," Ramadan said in a speech at the closing session of Arab politicians and dignitaries in Baghdad, "Either we accept to die slowly or we fight in order to life the embargo." He did not say how Iraq would fight for the lifting of the sanctions.
The sanctions, imposed on Iraq after the 1990 Persian Gulf War, were extended last Monday after Richard Butler, head of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), told the Security Council virtually no progress had been made in arms inspections over the last six months. Ramadan disputed this charge, saying Iraq had offered UNSCOM everything they had asked for, including access to the eight presidential compounds to the arms inspectors.
Here in the United States, a 100-person delegation led by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, are travelling to Iraq tomorrow with medical aid to challenge U.S. and United Nations sanctions. Called the Iraq Sanctions Challenge, it will be the largest U.S. delegation ever to defy the sanctions, and will bring one of the largest shipments of humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, and school supplies.
- Sarah Flounders, is the co-coordinator of the International Action Center and a member of the Iraq Sanctions Challenge delegation leaving for Baghdad on Wednesday.
- Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary Bishop for Detroit.