Congress Imposes Sanctions on Iraq Pending Observance of Worldwide Law

Both houses of Congress have approved sanctions against Iraq, including ending $1 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation credit guarantees that was designated this year.

But under both versions of the sanctions, President Bush could continue those credits if he certifies that Iraq is in “substantial compliance” with international treaties that prohibit, among other things, genocide, the use of asphyxiating or poisonous gases and the stockpiling of biological weapons or other toxins.

By an 83-12 vote, the Senate on Friday approved such language sponsored by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) as an amendment to a mammoth farm bill.

The House, by a vote of 234-175, approved similar language sponsored by Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.).

The sanctions follow U.S. criticism of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for allegedly trying to smuggle nuclear trigger devices from the United States to Iraq.

“America cannot continue business as usual with the butcher of Baghdad,” D’Amato said on the Senate floor. “While we have underwritten Saddam Hussein to the tune of $4 billion since 1983, he is making massive purchases of weapons that threaten to undermine the fragile peace in the Middle East.”

State Department deputy spokesman Richard Boucher, however, argued that the bills “would not help us to achieve U.S. goals with Iraq.”

FILL THE VOID

John Kelly, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, told Congress last month that such sanctions, to be effective, require multinational curbs.

Otherwise, U.S. allies will jump to fill the void and American farmers will be hurt for no tangible benefit, Kelly told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Iraq is the number one importer of U.S. rice. Kelly also noted that Iraq has the world’s second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.

But Boucher also announced that the State Department has asked the Commerce Department to place new restrictions on exports to countries such as Iraq that could facilitate weapons proliferation.

Pro-Israel lobbyists prefer the Senate version of the Iraqi sanctions over the House version, which also gives Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter discretion to continue the credit guarantees if he determines that U.S. farmers would suffer more than Iraq would.

That language was added to the House version in an amendment sponsored by Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.), which was approved 208-191.

A similar Senate amendment by Sen. Phil I Gramm (R-Texas) failed by a vote to 57-38.

Meanwhile, the Senate adopted an amendment to the farm bill sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C), which requires U.S. private banks lending money to the Soviet Union to charge interest rates beyond the rate they charge U.S. farmers.

A congressional staffer said the provision, approved 64-32, would “effectively close down their ability to borrow from U.S. banks.”

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