UNITED NATIONS – UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council called on Iraq Thursday to address all outstanding issues related to Kuwait, oil-for-food program contracts, and disarmament so it can cancel sanctions and more than 70 resolutions adopted after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
In a resolution adopted unanimously extending the U.N.'s civilian mission in Iraq for a year, the council said it recognized "the importance of Iraq achieving international standing equal to that which it held" before the first resolution was adopted immediately after Saddam Hussein's invasion.
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Hamid al-Bayati told the council Wednesday that "the most important issue facing Iraq ... remains to get rid of the burden" of resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which can be militarily enforced.
"I'm encouraged by the steps that have been taken" thus far, he said in Washington. "There are some steps that Iraq itself needs to take."
Iraq still has outstanding issues with Kuwait, including demarcation of the border, accounting for 600 missing Kuwaitis and the $24 billion debt Baghdad owes Kuwait as reparations for the invasion.
In May 2003, weeks after the U.S. invaded Iraq, the council lifted economic sanctions against Iraq, opening the country to international trade and investment and allowing oil exports to resume. In June 2004, it lifted an embargo on the sale of conventional weapons to the government. But there are still limits on some activities related to the possible production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers (90 miles) are still banned.
The Security Council welcomed Iraq's decision to adhere to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's additional protocol that allows unannounced inspections and reaffirmed the importance of Iraqi ratification "as soon as possible." It also welcomed Iraq's intention to join The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.
The council called on the Iraqi government "to take all other necessary steps to meet its outstanding obligations, including to work with due haste and diligence to close the oil for food program."
The $64 billion oil-for-food program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, aimed to ease the suffering of Iraqi civilians living under sanctions imposed by the council after the Kuwaiti invasion. It was the biggest humanitarian program in U.N. history, but a U.N.-sanctioned investigation found widespread corruption, involving thousands of parties, that bilked the program of $1.8 billion.
Al-Bayati said a ministerial committee recommended paying 26 disputed oil-for-food contracts partially or entirely and to resolve the remaining 39 disputed contracts in the coming months.
He said Iraq had expected — and still expects — the Security Council to lift all restrictions on disarmament, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles because of the many steps the country has already taken. He cited a letter in March from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency informing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the government's "excellent cooperation" on nuclear inspections.
Al-Bayati said the government, in addition, has decided to voluntarily adhere to strengthened nuclear safeguards, adopt the additional NPT protocol, and set up a committee of experts to liquidate chemical residues from the country's former chemical weapons program. It also decided to join the ballistic missile code and adopted "a strict mechanism" to control so-called dual-use items which can be used for both civilian and military purposes, he said.
As for the outstanding issues with Kuwait, al-Bayati said that because of "the importance and sensitivity" of the issues, both countries have agreed to deal with them after the formation of a new Iraqi government.
The Security Council resolution called on Iraq's leaders to form a new and inclusive government "as quickly as possible" and stressed the importance of "political dialogue and national unity" to improve security in the country.
Associated Press Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report from Washington