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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Russia Disagree Over Changes to Iraqi Sanctions

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States and Russia, long at odds over what to do with Iraq, are embroiled in a new dispute over what Saddam Hussein should be allowed to import under the terms of the UN's humanitarian program.

The latest dispute, to be discussed during Tuesday's Security Council consultations, threatens to disrupt the oil-for-food program which allows Iraq to use its oil revenue to buy humanitarian goods.

Items with possible military applications, however, must be reviewed by the UN sanctions committee before they can be purchased.

The United States, concerned that Baghdad could be buying equipment for war, is seeking to expand the list and has said that unless additions are made, they would not support a routine, six-month extension of the program.

Russia, Iraq's most important council ally, wants to trim the list, which currently includes everything from heavy trucks to super computers. Until those changes are agreed upon by the council, Russia wants the program to be renewed.

The United States and Russia have long been at odds over what to do with Iraq, but they and the other members of the council last month were able to agree over a U.S.-drafted resolution to set up tough new inspections regime. The new dispute could disrupt the unified atmosphere.

Oil-for-food was up for renewal on Nov. 25, but the Security Council gave the United States until Wednesday to seek support for its case. Washington has used the time to lobby capitals but hasn't produced a list of the items it wants to add. Instead, U.S. officials are hoping to win additional extensions as a way to pressure Russia and others into accepting a package of changes.

Britain, the closest ally of the U.S., has been trying to come up with a compromise in which Washington would win another week to work on a small number of additions which would appear on the list when the program was extended in mid-December.

The Security Council was set to discuss the options Wednesday, but on Monday, a frustrated Russia moved up the consultations by one day.

"Delays damage the humanitarian program," deputy Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov said Monday.

"The extension should be for the whole period of six months and if any delegation feels that it is necessary to reconsider or adjust the list, we are ready for that at any moment," he said.

Gatilov wouldn't discuss items Russia would like to remove from the list but a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was opposed to all of them.

"We are not interested in removing items, we are interesting in adding items," the U.S. official said.

Security Council allies were irked last week by the U.S. moves to change the "goods review list," which came hours before the program was up for a routine, six-month renewal.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said at the time that the United States wouldn't support the six-month extension unless several additions, including atropine injectors and atropine, an antidote used in the event of exposure to nerve agents, were added.