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U.N. Votes To Keep Iraq Sanctions

April 28, 1998

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ After all-day meetings, the Security Council agreed Monday to maintain sanctions against Iraq but postponed action on calls by Russia and others to scale back wide-ranging inspections of Iraqi nuclear facilities.

The decision to prolong the 7-year embargo came despite an unprecedented personal appeal by Iraq’s foreign minister for sanctions relief and threats from Baghdad about future cooperation with the U.N. inspection program.

Council President Hisashi Owada of Japan told reporters ``there was no consensus to modify the sanctions regime,″ meaning the embargo remains in place. No vote was taken.

``Sanctions will not be lifted because Iraq has not complied,″ U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson said. ``That was the result of the Security Council review.″

But the United States came under strong pressure from Russia, France, China and others to have the council formally acknowledge Iraq’s progress in nuclear disarmament, a move that would effectively scale back inspections of nuclear facilities.

Russia circulated a draft resolution that would indicate Iraq has fully cooperated with U.N. inspectors on nuclear issues but would still be subject to inspections if the International Atomic Energy Agency receives more information about its clandestine program.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov cited a recent IAEA report which found no evidence that Iraq was still secretly building nuclear weapons. China’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Shen Guofang, said weapons inspections ``should be closed as soon as possible.″

France’s U.N. ambassador, Alain Dejammet, said it was too early to lift sanctions but argued that the council should take stock of Iraq’s progress in nuclear weapons.

Richardson acknowledged that Iraq had made progress in dismantling its nuclear weapons program but said it was too early to lift economic sanctions or scale back arms inspections.

``There appears to be some progress in the nuclear file,″ U.S. Richardson said. ``However, we believe that it is premature to totally close that file without further steps″ or to end the sanctions.

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