Jordan Announces Seizure Of Contraband Headed For Iraq
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Jordan announced today it seized aircraft spare parts and other supplies headed for Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions, as a weapons inspector arrived in Baghdad to check compliance with a U.N. weapons ban.
It was the third time in three months that Jordan has reported seizing contraband destined for Iraq, despite Iraq’s claim it is complying with U.N. resolutions to dismantle its non-conventional weapons and long-range missile programs.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council met today to discuss ways to tighten import-export controls on Iraq.
The council has refused to lift crippling economic sanctions until it is convinced Iraq has complied with the U.N. orders and fully disclosed its long-range missile, chemical, nuclear and biological weapons programs.
The sanctions were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, triggering the Persian Gulf War. Charles Duelfer, deputy executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq, arrived in Baghdad today to receive more documents from the Iraqis about their weapons programs.
In Amman, acting Information Minister Mohammed Daoudiyeh said the 450-pound shipment arrived in six parcels from the Polish capital, Warsaw, and was seized at Queen Alia International Airport.
He said the shipment was marked ``agricultural equipment,″ which Iraq is allowed to import, and was sent to a private Jordanian-Iraqi company, Al-Iman. He gave no further details.
An Iraqi spokesman for the company, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, denied any military gear was in the shipment. The Iraqi Embassy refused comment.
The announcement reinforces suspicions that Iraq has not complied fully with U.N. orders and is still trying to rebuild its non-conventional weapons capability after its 1991 defeat by the U.S.-led coalition.
In Baghdad, Duelfer told reporters that Iraq had provided the United Nations with more documents on its weapons programs. But he said he needed time to determine whether they were complete.
``I would point to the pattern that has existed over the past seven years,″ Duelfer said, speaking to reporters before the Jordanian announcement.
``Iraq has said they have provided all information for a long time. We believe there are still documents in Iraq that will help us.″
In November, King Hussein revealed Jordan had intercepted an Iraq-bound shipment of Russian-made gyroscopes worth $25 million. The equipment can be used as guidance systems for long-range missiles.
In December, the government said it had confiscated Iraq-bound chemical material that could be used to manufacture internationally prohibited weapons. Iraq has denied involvement in both shipments.
The Security Council has offered to allow Iraq to sell $1 billion worth of oil for three months to buy food and medicine. Talks between the United Nations and Iraq on the offer resume Monday.
Although the offer does not require full Iraqi compliance with the weapons ban, council members are unlikely to approve even limited concessions to the Iraqis as long as they believe Baghdad is violating the sanctions.