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Fact Sheet
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 14, 2002

"Goods Review List" for Iraq

On May 14, 2002, the UN Security Council voted unanimously in resolution 1409 to adopt a new export control system on Iraq. This resolution, and the "Goods Review List" (GRL) it establishes, are the centerpiece of the UN effort to revise UN sanctions on Iraq to ensure the rapid and unimpeded flow of civilian goods to the Iraqi people while maintaining critical controls on militarily-useful items.

Before "Oil for Food"

Following the U.S.-led coalition's military action in 1991 to force Iraq's military forces out of Kuwait, and Baghdad's subsequent actions to crush anti-regime uprisings in both the north and the south of the country, Iraq's infrastructure was in ruins. The humanitarian situation was serious, but the Iraqi government was not using the authority it had been given under UN Security Council resolutions to import the food, medicine and other humanitarian goods necessary to address immediate needs.

Security Council Resolution 706 of August 15, 1991, proposed initially by the United States, sought to establish a transparent mechanism to allow Iraq to export oil to pay for humanitarian imports. The attempt failed when Iraq refused to accept the resolution and Baghdad thus prevented itself from selling its oil on world markets. Numerous international observers reported the hardships endured by the general population of Iraq as a result of Baghdad's refusal to cooperate.

On April 14, 1995, Security Council Resolution 986 established the UN "Oil for Food" program as a temporary measure to allow for the sale of Iraqi oil for funds to meet the most pressing humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. Iraq took eighteen months to agree with the Security Council on implementation. Oil exports did not begin until December 1996, with the first food shipments purchased through the program not arriving until March 1997 -- nearly two years after resolution 986 passed.

The Old System

From March 1997, the Oil for Food system operated as follows:

Iraqi oil revenue was deposited in a UN escrow account.

The Iraq Sanction Committee, comprised of all 15 members of the Council, reviewed almost all of Iraq's proposed purchases -- with foodstuffs and certain medical, health and agricultural materials exempt from review. This was solely to keep Iraq from obtaining militarily useful items for rearmament.

Any member of the committee could approve, hold or block a proposed contract. In reviewing proposed purchases, members referred to established international control lists of items related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missile programs and conventional weapons.

Over time Iraq was permitted to export increasing quantities of oil, and the types of goods it could purchase expanded. From 1999 on, Iraq's oil exports have been unlimited.

Of the total of over $52 billion received to date in the UN's escrow account, almost $33 billion has been contracted for humanitarian goods and oil field supplies. Of this $33 billion, about $21 billion has actually been delivered to Iraq. Most of the balance is either in production or pending delivery. Roughly $5 billion worth of contracts (less than 10 percent) have been placed "on hold" by the committee because they involve items suspected of having some military use to Iraq.

The New System

UN escrow account for Iraqi oil revenue and restrictions on items of potential military and military-related use are maintained.

UN export controls on purely civilian goods purchased by Iraq are lifted.

The delivery of civilian goods to Iraq is streamlined. All contracts for export of goods to Iraq under the Oil for Food program are presumed approved unless found to contain item(s) on the "Goods Review List" (GRL).

The two UN inspection bodies already assigned to monitor Iraq will use the GRL: the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They will examine all purchase contracts to see if they contain GRL items. UNMOVIC and the IAEA have the authority to approve all non-GRL items. Only items that are covered by the GRL, not entire contracts, will be forwarded to the UN Sanctions Committee for further review, and prompt approval or denial.

What This Means

Iraq can now purchase civilian goods much faster, without lengthy review, so long as contracts do not contain potential "dual use" items from the GRL.

The GRL is not a denial list. It is a pre-agreed upon list of items that require additional scrutiny -- so-called "dual-use" items that may have both a legitimate civilian use and a potential military use in a prohibited nuclear, chemical, biological, ballistic missile or conventional military program. Any and all civilian items not on the GRL can be imported by Iraq with a minimum of delay.

UN Security Council resolution 687 of April 3, 1991 will remain in force. Not only does the resolution require Iraq to destroy its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, and limit the range of Iraq's ballistic missiles to 150 km. The resolution also prohibits the sale or supply to Iraq of all arms and related materials. This includes dual-use products and technologies related to military purposes as well as training and technical support. There will be no easing of restrictions on Iraq's rearmament.

The Security Council is united in its determination to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people while making clear its determination to prevent Iraq from rearming.

The clear action by the Security Council to adopt the GRL, a list that captures in great detail those items that all states must subject to close scrutiny, reinforces the obligation of all states to prevent Iraq from evading or eroding its obligations established under UN Security Council Resolutions.

The U.S. will continue to work with the UN to contain Iraq's significant threat to regional stability as we look forward to the day when a democratic and representative government in Baghdad, at peace with its neighbors, will lead Iraq to retake its rightful place in the community of nations.

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