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Iraq Wants OK for Oil Spare Parts

May 27, 1998

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq urged the U.N. Security Council to allow it to import $300 million worth of spare parts and equipment to refurbish its oil industry and boost crude production.

Oil Ministry undersecretary Faiz Shaheen contended Wednesday the United States and Britain are preventing the council from approving the purchases. Without them, he said, Baghdad will be unable to export enough oil to generate income for the next six-month phase of a special oil-for-food program.

Since the program’s start in December 1996, Iraq has been permitted to sell $2 billion worth of oil every six months and use the money to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. The value was raised to $5.2 billion for the fourth phase starting June 3.

U.N. experts visited Iraq in March to determine what it needs to upgrade its oil facilities. But ``some 72 days have passed ... and there has been no official approval from the council yet to let Iraq purchase the needs of the oil sector,″ Shaheen said.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Tuesday that Iraq’s plan for distributing food, medicine and other essentials for the fourth phase is currently under review and is unlikely to be approved before the end of this week.

Iraq’s import bill under the new plan is expected to surge to $3 billion from $1.3 billion during the previous periods.

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