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Iraq Issues: Sanctions

A UN trade embargo remained in place after the Persian Gulf War. The Security Council laid out strict demands on Iraq for lifting the sanctions, including destruction of its chemical and biological weapons, cessation of nuclear weapons programs, and acceptance of international inspections to ensure that these conditions were met. Iraq resisted these demands, claiming that its withdrawal from Kuwait was sufficient compliance. UN weapons inspectors entered Iraq in mid-1991 and began destroying chemical and biological weapons and production facilities in mid-I 992.

By the mid - 1990s Iraq was suffering an economic crisis. Prices were high , food and medicine shortages were rampant, and the free market (unofficial ) exchange rate for the dinar was in serve decline. Although the sanctions continued , in April 1995 the UN security.

Iraq

Council voted unanimously to allow Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil to meet its urgent humanitarian needs. Iraq initially rejected the plan but then accepted it in 1996; it began to export oil at the end of that year. In 1998 the UN increased the amount of oil Iraq was allowed to sell, but Iraq was unable to take full advantage of this increase because its production capabilities had deteriorated under the sanctions.

Weapons Inspections

Beginning in the late 1990s Iraq increasingly faced the possibility of another military crisis. Iraq’s interference with UN weapons inspectors almost led to punitive U.S. air strikes against Iraq in early 1998, a step that was averted by a last minute compromise brokered by UN secretary general Kofi Annan. In December of that year, in response to allegations that Iraq was continuing to block inspections, the United States and Britain launched a four day series of air strikes on Iraqi military and industrial targets. In response, Iraq declared that it would no longer comply with JN inspection teams. In the following years, British and U.S. planes periodically struck Iraqi missile launch sites and other targets.

Despite interference by Iraqi authorities, UN weapons inspectors succeeded in destroying thousands of chemical weapons, hundreds of missiles, and numerous weapon production facilities before leaving Iraq in late 1998. But inspectors alleged that Hussein still possessed many more chemical weapons, and expressed concerns that Iraq had inadequately reported the scale of its biological weapons program and stockpile.

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