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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Britain Offers New Deal To Halt Iraq Sanctions

UNITED NATIONS -- After nearly a decade of stringent UN sanctions against Iraq, Britain has proposed for the first time suspension of the embargoes if Iraq answers outstanding questions on its dangerous weapons.

But a draft resolution circulated Tuesday, co-sponsored by the Netherlands, would maintain "effective financial controls" to make sure Iraq did not reacquire weapons of mass destruction. Such controls restrict a free movement of goods.

If the UN Security Council approved the resolution, it would take at least eight months for any suspension of the sanctions to take effect. If Iraq met all requirements, the sanctions could be suspended for 120-day periods, subject to a new council vote at each interval, the draft says.

France, Russia and China have favored the suspension or lifting of sanctions for the past year and most Security Council members want the pressure eased on ordinary Iraqis who have borne the brunt of the embargoes, imposed in August 1990 after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait.

The United States, while indicating it would support a sanctions suspension under certain circumstances, has not yet come up with any proposals to bridge the impasse.

U.S. officials, generally supportive of the British draft, said Washington would consider a suspension depending on further details.

However, diplomats said it was doubtful the British draft could bridge gaps among key council members who have been meeting privately in search of a compromise.

The Security Council has been deadlocked since U.S.-British bombing raids last December on how to resume political and disarmament ties with Iraq. Arms inspectors left on the eve of the bombing and have not been allowed to return since then.

France recently drew up a lengthy draft resolution that would suspend the sanctions after an arms monitoring system was in place and renew the suspension when the United Nations reported it was still effective and Iraq was cooperating.

Iraq, insisting UN arms inspectors left explosives behind in Baghdad, has refused to allow arms experts from the UN Special Commission to clear out a UN laboratory in the Iraqi capital, diplomats said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office was considering a team that could include Special Commission chemical arms experts and chemists from a Swiss government laboratory, who have done some work for the commission in the past, the diplomats said.

But they reported Tuesday that Iraq wanted to exclude all experts from the commission on any visit to Baghdad. Annan will now have to decide on what sort of a team he will send.