A spokesman for the US mission to the UN says that Washington ‘is committed to pursuing a new approach to lift the economic sanctions on civilian goods in Iraq’, and that US officials are already in discussions with their Russian counterparts on the issue. ‘We hope that the Russians will be convinced, it’s important to get them on board.’

In June, Russia’s threat to veto the so-called ‘smart sanctions’ led the US and UK to suspend plans to ease restrictions on the import of civilian goods and clamp down on oil smuggling and illegal weapons. An attempt by the US and UK to extend the oil-for-food programme by just one month, rather than the usual six, prompted Iraq to halt its oil exports in a move that cost Baghdad close to $2,000 million in lost revenues (MEED 15:6:01).

Iraq resumed oil exports on 10 July and, as of 19 October, had earned an estimated Eur 4,790 million ($4,325 million) under phase 10 of the UN programme , on average sales of 14 million barrels a week.