Diplomatic Bluebook 2001
Chapter III. REGIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
6. THE MIDDLE EAST
UN economic sanctions have been imposed on Iraq since its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. It is important that Iraq comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular those related to the destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. This is also vital for the lifting of the economic sanctions. In December 1999, UN Security Council Resolution 1284 was adopted in response to the continued refusal of the Iraqi government to cooperate with UN work. This comprehensive resolution established a new committee, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee (UNMOVIC), to address the destruction of weapons of mass destruction, and agreed to suspend the economic sanctions for 120 days if Iraq cooperated in all respects with the UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 120 days. Japan and other countries are urging Iraq to comply with the UN Security Council Resolutions, including cooperation with the UNMOVIC. However, Iraq has continued to refuse this cooperation, and therefore it remains under the UN economic sanctions.
Throughout 2000, the U.S. and UK forces engaged in sporadic bombing in the "no-fly" zones. At the same time, even as the UN sanctions are kept in place, new developments are also emerging such as flights from France and Russia, visits to Iraq by the President of Venezuela and the Prime Minister of Jordan, and the resumption of operation of domestic flights linking Baghdad with local cities.
As a result of extended years of the economic sanctions, an increasingly serious humanitarian situation has been emerging in Iraq, including medicine and food shortages. To cope with this situation, the "Oil for Food" program has been implemented since December 1996 in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The program allows Iraq to export its petroleum monitored by the UN to fund the purchase of humanitarian supplies.
Japan continues to seek Iraq's full compliance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, while, in December 2000, Cabinet approval was also given for efforts toward the smooth implementation of the above mentioned "Oil for Food" program in Japan with a view to responding to humanitarian needs of the people of Iraq.
In the sixth Majles (Iranian Parliament) elections held in February and May 2000 in Iran, groups supporting President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami's reform policy captured more than 60 percent of the 290 Parliament seats. This showed the expectation of the Iranian people for further reforms. However, since the elections, pressure on reformists by conservatives has been increasing, such as assassination attempts on key reform supporters, the banning by judicial authorities of publication of pro-reform newspapers, and the arrest and imprisonment of journalists. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohajerani, a leading proponent of freedom of speech and culture in the Khatami administration, was also forced to resign in December. Resistance to the President's reform policy from conservatives is also expected in the lead-up to the presidential elections in June 2001. In addition, with regard to the domestic situation, trials involving suspicion of spying by Jewish Iranians attracted international attention, with the international community calling for due process of law and transparency during the trials.
Concerning Iran's diplomacy, President Khatami strengthened key international ties through visits to China in June and Germany in July, while Iran also improved relations with Middle Eastern countries, including the resumption of diplomatic ties with Algeria in September. Some movements by the U.S. toward the improvement of Iran-U.S. relations, such as the partial relaxation of the economic sanctions on Iran, were observed, but no major progress was made in this regard.
Japan has been supporting President Khatami's reform policy and Iran's efforts to improve relations with the international community, and has been encouraging Iran to play a more active role toward the peace and stability of the Middle East and the international community. In October 2000, President Khatami became the first Iranian president to pay an official visit Japan. During the visit, President Khatami made a state call on His Majesty Emperor Akihito and held Summit talks with Prime Minister Mori. They signed a joint statement, and clarified common ground between the two countries in a wide range of areas, as well as cooperation prospects. President Khatami became the first leader from the Middle East to make an address in the Diet. At the same time, Prime Minister Mori expressed concern over Iran's recent missile development, and urged greater efforts to take necessary measures to prevent and eliminate terrorism.
Agreement was also reached on the right of first refusal for the development of the Azadegan oil field by Japanese companies, and on the framework of an advance facility as an advance payment for oil imports.
While many borders in the Gulf region have yet to be clearly demarcated, an agreement was reached in June 2000 on the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and in July, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait agreed on marine border demarcation. Prospects for dialogue remain dim with regard to the dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over Abu Musa Island, Greater Tonb Island, and Lesser Tonb Island. Moreover, no progress has been made in the border dispute between Qatar and Bahrain over the Hawar Island, despite the agreement between leaders in December 1999 that a peaceful resolution would be sought.
In October 2000, a bombing incident involving the U.S. destroyer USS Cole occurred in Aden Harbor, Yemen. The motive behind the attack has not yet been discovered.
In terms of energy, the Saudi Arabian portion of the drilling rights for Khafji oil field and others held by the Arabian Oil Co. expired at the end of February with no extension granted. The government of Japan had proposed to create favorable conditions for the renewal of drilling rights in the negotiation with the government of Saudi Arabia, but the Arabian Oil Co. and the Saudi government failed to reach agreement. Drilling rights for Japanese, developed crude oil fields will expire throughout the Gulf area by 2018, starting with Kuwait's share of Khafji oil field. Japan's dependence on the Gulf as an energy source is growing, and the Gulf countries will without doubt become increasingly important to the world economy in the years to come.
(Minister for Foreign Affairs Kono visited the Gulf countries [Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia] in January 2001.)
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