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Iraq Embargo: Red Sea Interceptions Suspended For Month-long Trial

August 23, 1994

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ U.S. Navy-led shipping interceptions in the Red Sea, enforcing U.N. sanctions against Iraq, will be suspended for a one-month trial period starting Thursday, the U.S. Navy announced.

The announcement Tuesday follows a U.N. agreement to stop intercepting vessels bound for Jordan, once a key trading conduit for Iraq, and rely instead on onshore inspections of cargo in Aqaba, Joran’s only port. Officials from the London-based Lloyd’s Register of Shipping will conduct those inspections.

A U.S. Navy statement said interceptions will continue in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea to prevent banned goods from reaching Iraq. Under the sanctions, only humanitarian supplies can enter Iraq.

The halt to intercepts in the Red Sea is to help Jordan, a key player in the U.S.-sponsored Arab-Israeli peace process, and does not signal an end to the trade sanctions imposed on Iraq in August 1990 for invading Kuwait.

King Hussein of Jordan had boycotted peace talks with Israel since the end of March to protest the U.N. blockade in the Red Sea, where Aqaba is located. Amman complained repeatedly that the Red Sea interceptions were driving up freight and insurance fees, causing the country economic hardship.

Shipping companies were diverting vessels elsewhere because of the blockade. The diversions and delays have cost Jordan more than $440 million in lost revenue in 1993 alone, Jordanian officials said.

After Washington agreed in April to switch to land-based inspections, talks resumed, culminating in the July 25 declaration by Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to end the 46-year state of war between their countries.

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