UN extends immunity for Iraq's energy revenues

Iraq's energy revenues will be immune from financial claims through 2009 under a resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

UN extends immunity for Iraq's energy revenues
A U.S.- and British-drafted resolution, passed by all 15 council members, also agreed to a Baghdad request for a review of past council resolutions on Iraq dating back to the Saddam Hussein era with the aim of terminating outdated ones.

Two months after US occupation in 2003, Iraq's oil and gas proceeds were put into a development fund for the country. An international board monitors the fund, now held in Baghdad.

The Security Council ruled at the time that the proceeds would be immune from seizure under legal claims. Iraq is still laden with debts and claims inherited from Saddam, notably from Kuwait, which the former Iraqi leader invaded in 1990.

Since then, the immunity has been renewed as part of an annual resolution to authorize foreign forces in Iraq. That authority lapses on Dec. 31 and is being replaced by bilateral accords between Iraq and individual countries, so this year's resolution was confined to the energy revenues issue.

"We need the assurances that Iraq's resources and financial assets are available for the country's recovery program," Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told the council.

"Without such assurances, the functioning of the Iraqi government and the current stability could be seriously endangered."

But he said Iraq, which sits on the world's third-largest oil reserves, was "fully committed to the resolution of all legitimate claims," in particular settlements stemming from the invasion of Kuwait.

The extension, which lasts until the end of 2009, would give the Iraqis time to work on plans for dealing with claims.

The council also decided to review its resolutions on Iraq beginning in 1990.

The council asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to consult with Iraq on the issue and report back.


Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2008, 13:28
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