BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq has lost about $140 billion as result of U.N. trade sanctions which include a ban on its oil exports, Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said Sunday.
The sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, bar the export of all but limited amounts of oil worth $2 billion each six months.
The United Nations permitted Iraq to pump partial amounts of oil to international markets in December 1996 to help it buy food, medicine and other supplies to its 22 million people.
``Iraq’s economy has lost approximately $140 billion. That means the economy lost goods, commodities, equipment and services which would have been imported by the oil money,″ Saleh told The Associated Press.
Independent experts have estimated the loss at about $115 billion from the ban just in oil exports during the years of the embargo.
Iraq holds the world’s second largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. It was the world’s second biggest exporter of oil, also after Saudi Arabia, prior to the U.N. embargo.
Under U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted after the Kuwaiti invasion, the sanctions will not be lifted until U.N. weapons inspectors certify that Iraq has eliminated all long-range missiles and chemical, nuclear and biological weapons.
Saleh, a technocrat with a doctorate from Britain’s Manchester University, said the sanctions have caused ``great material loss″ for the economy.
But the greatest loss is ``the death of 1.5 million Iraqis, most of them children,″ said Saleh, maintaining that number have died due to lack of food and medicine caused by the embargo.
To further alleviate Iraq’s sanctions-related suffering, the United Nations has given Iraq the chance to increase the value of its exports to $5.2 billion from the current $2 billion.