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Iraq Pumps Oil Despite Bombings

December 29, 1998

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Iraqi oil exports surged last week, primarily because the four-day U.S. and British bombing campaign cut domestic demand for crude, U.N. figures showed Monday.

Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization continued to export oil through the attack, reaching 2.5 million barrels a day, the figures showed. Exports have recently averaged between 1.6 million and 1.8 million barrels a day.

Iraq closed all refineries during the bombing, cutting domestic consumption and prompting Baghdad to hike exports to a level close to its estimated production capacity.

Iraq is barred from freely selling oil on the open market because of sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Iraq is allowed to export up to $5.3 billion worth of oil over 180 days under the U.N. ``oil-for-food″ program. Proceeds are used primarily for food, medical supplies and to compensate Gulf War victims.

The United States and Britain launched a four-day missile campaign Dec. 16 because of Iraq’s alleged obstruction of U.N. weapons inspectors. The inspectors must certify Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction before the oil embargo is lifted.

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