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Why Is the U.S. Preparing to Attack Iraq and Not North Korea? a Discussion On Iraq's Oil and the Potential to Break Opec

January 09, 2003

The Bush administration this week backed down from its three-month-old stance that the North Koreans will have to dismantle its nuclear weapons program before Washington will even talk to them. In a joint statement with Japan and South Korea, Washington dropped all pre-conditions, saying it is willing to open talks.

Robert Fisk writes in the London Independent: "I think I’m getting the picture. North Korea breaks all its nuclear agreements with the United States, throws out UN inspectors and sets off to make a bomb a year, and President Bush says it’s 'a diplomatic issue'. Iraq hands over a 12,000-page account of its weapons production and allows UN inspectors to roam all over the country, and — after they’ve found not a jam-jar of dangerous chemicals in 230 raids — President Bush announces that Iraq is a threat to America, has not disarmed and may have to be invaded."

Well today we’re going to talk about one of the reasons why. Not only does Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, but there is the possibility that a new US-backed regime in Iraq could eventually break the back of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC, with Saudi Arabia firmly in control, sets the price of oil on the world markets much higher than they would be if market forces prevail.


  • James Paul, Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum. He has also worked as a writer and consultant with projects for Human Rights Watch, Oxford University Press, Physicians for Human Rights, and many others. He was awarded the World Hunger Media Award in 1987 and he received a "Peacemaker" award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 1996. He is an editor of the Oxford Companion to Politics of the World and his most recent book is Humanity Comes of Age.

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