Iraq: Oil-for-Food Program
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The oil-for-food program represents a longstanding U.N. Security Council effort to alleviate human suffering in Iraq while maintaining pressure on the Iraqi government to comply with all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. In order to ensure that only humanitarian needs are served by the program, U.N. Security Council resolutions have mandated substantial controls on Iraqi oil exports and humanitarian imports. However, in response to complaints by humanitarian officials and groups working in Iraq that insufficient supplies are reaching the Iraqi people, the Security Council has agreed to ease some of the programs restraints. A major Security Council resolution adopted in December 1999, Resolution 1284, lifts the cap on the amount of oil Iraq can export and eliminated U.N. controls on the importation by Iraq of several categories of humanitarian items. There is a consensus among observers that the program has eased, but not eliminated, human suffering in Iraq. Many different explanations have been offered for the failure of the program to accomplish all of its objectives. The United States blames Iraq for mismanaging the program and for attempting to import equipment that, at best, will not improve the humanitarian situation and, at worst, could be used in any Iraqi attempt to reconstitute weapons of mass destruction WMD programs. The United States also accuses Iraq of using its additional currency reserves--as well as the proceeds of illicit exports of petroleum and agricultural products--to build palaces and import liquor and luxury goods rather than to supplement supplies purchased under the program. The United States has sought to persuade Iraqs neighbors, including Iran, not to help Iraq conduct illicit trade, but the growing regional sympathy for the Iraqi people has resulted in a pronounced relaxation of regional enforcement--or even open defiance--of the Iraq sanctions.
- Government and Political Science