Iraq Stops Oil Exports

Iraq will stop oil exports for one month to protest Israel's offensive against the Palestinians, President Saddam Hussein said in a speech to the nation. Iraq's top leadership has decided to "completely halt oil exports as of this afternoon, April 8, 2002, through the pipelines carrying (crude) to the Turkish port on the Mediterranean and through our ports in southern Iraq," Saddam said in his televised address. The stoppage will last "30 days, after which we will review (the decision), or until the armies of the Zionist entity have unconditionally withdrawn from the Palestinian territories they have occupied and (until they) respect the will of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation," he added.

The oil ministry said in a statement that oil exports stopped at 1000 GMT on Monday. Exports were halted at the Mina al-Bakr terminal on the Gulf and the Turkish Mediterranen port of Ceyhan, the two ports through which Iraq's oil flows. The office administering Iraq's oil-for-food program with the UN said on April 2 that the volume of oil exported by Baghdad under UN supervision surged from 6.7 million barrels to 16.5 million barrels the previous week. There were six loadings at Mina al-Bakr port and three at the port of Ceyhan, the only outlets for Iraqi oil permitted under UN sanctions imposed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, it said in its latest weekly update. Revenue rose from 170 million euros (150 million dollars) the week before to an estimated 427 million euros (375 million dollars), the highest weekly figure since mid-September, it said.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Islamic oil-producing countries Friday to suspend their exports to Western countries and those that have relations with Israel "for a symbolic period of one month. Iraq has periodically halted exports under the UN oil-for-food scheme in recent years, the last time on June 4, 2001, for a month in protest at a one-month rollover of the program ordered by the Security Council instead of the usual six-month extension. The short extension heralded an unsuccessful attempt to revamp the council's sanctions regime and introduce so-called "smart sanctions" against Iraq by July 3. Iraq resumed oil exports after reaching a deal with the United Nations on conditions for a 150-day extension of the program. Iraq, a member of the 11-nation OPEC, but not part of the cartel's quota system since the 1991 Gulf War, has proven reserves of 112 billion barrels and a current production capacity of 2.2 million bpd.