Breakthrough: U.N. reduces Saddam-era sanctions on Iraq

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After recognizing improved Iraq-Kuwait relations, the U.N. Security Council on Thursday unanimously voted to ease sanctions against Baghdad.

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990’s. The embargo on Iraq fell under Chapter VII of the U.N. charter.

“This is a historic, jubilant day, all Iraqis should celebrate. It is the day when Iraqis have retained their sovereignty. The day when they are liberated from punishments, isolation,” Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told Al Arabiya's New York bureau chief Talal Al-Haj.

Chapter VII of the charter allows the U.N. Security Council to use military force against any country that threatens another state. However, Iraq is still not sanctions-free, it has now been placed under VI Chapter in the U.N. charter, which doesn’t impose military force.

“The seventh chapter has become history. Now, Iraq and Kuwait as governments and people have to concentrate on the present time and future.”

He said the historic decision came through despite the complex situation inside Iraq, adding the foreign ministry worked to convince the Iraqi parliament to pass through certain laws showing its commitment to obtaining an exit from Chapter VII.

“We also negotiated with each member of the U.N. security council, country by country.”

Iraq still needs to return missing property, national treasures and archives, as well as reparations for the invasion, in order to be embargo-free.

Iraq still owes around $11 billion to Kuwait. In total, Iraq was ordered by the U.N. to pay the Gulf country just over $52 billion. The debt is expected to be fully paid off by 2015.

Zebari thanked Kuwait for its “support and assistance” and vowed to increase cooperation with the country.

The resolution adopted Thursday calls on the Iraqi government to continue searching for more than 600 missing Kuwaitis and looted property but no longer allows for the measures to be enforced militarily.

Meanwhile, Iraq found the remains of 236 missing Kuwaitis.

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