‘The expectation is that it would take eight-10 weeks for the World Food Programme to sort out all of the contracts that -are in the pipeline for the oil-food-programme,’ he said. ‘There would be a need for Australian wheat to fill that gap.’ Dewey was referring to 100,000 tones of Australian wheat in two vessels due to be unloaded soon in Kuwait and Umm Qasr that has been donated by the Australian government.

US officials say that there will be enough food delivered by members of the US-led coalition to feed the Iraqi people until the oil-for-food programme becomes fully operational.

The UN said on 1 April that it had identified $1,000 million of goods among items ordered under the oil-for-food programme before it was suspended, to be delivered and paid for as a priority.