U.N. defers Iraq's $4.6 billion Gulf War
reparations to Kuwait
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[December 18, 2014]
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations Gulf
War compensation fund agreed on Thursday to defer Iraq's requirement to
deposit five percent of its oil revenues for a year due to its budgetary
difficulties, a senior U.N. official said.
Major powers on the fund's ruling body took the decision by
consensus as Iraq's economy is being battered by both low oil prices
and war with Islamic State militants.
"The Governing Council adopted a decision agreeing to a postponement
of Iraq's requirement to deposit five percent of oil proceeds until
1 January, 2016," Leah Kraft, legal officer of the U.N. Compensation
Commission (UNCC), told Reuters.
Speaking after the closed-door session in Geneva, she added: "The
Council expressed its solidarity with Iraq and wanted to be as
helpful as possible."
Iraq this week requested a one-year deferral of a $4.6 billion
reparations payment for destroying Kuwait's oil facilities during
its 1990-91 occupation.
Earlier on Thursday, state news agency KUNA reported that Kuwait
said it accepted the Iraqi request related to reparations imposed by
the U.N. Security Council over its invasion.
The UNCC's Governing Council emphasized to Iraq's delegation "the
importance of paying the outstanding compensation in full and in a
timely manner", Kraft said.
Khaled Ahmed Al-Mudhaf, chairman of Kuwait compensation authority,
led the emirate's delegation. Iraq's delegation was headed by
Mohammad Bidan, a senior foreign ministry official.
Iraq has been paying funds regularly into the Geneva-based fund
overseeing compensation for looting and damage inflicted during
Saddam Hussein's seven-month occupation of Kuwait, which was ended
by a multinational military operation.
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But with its economy set to shrink for the first time since the 2003
U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam and ended more than a decade of
sanctions, Iraq can ill afford to divert a large chunk of the 2015
budget to make that last payment due next year.
The last, and largest, outstanding compensation claim for $4.6
billion is from Kuwait for damage to its oil facilities.
More than 700 Kuwaiti oil wells were set on fire by Iraqi troops
retreating from the U.S.-led operation Desert Storm to recapture it
in January 1991. Some burned for 10 months.
Nearly all of Iraq's $52.4 billion reparations bill has been paid,
with more than a million claimants - individuals, companies and
governments - receiving compensation.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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