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EU Commissioner Says US Out To Seize Iraq's Oil

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EU Commissioner Says U.S. Out to Seize Iraq's Oil

Fri May 9, 5:19 AM ET

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A European Union commissioner said on Friday he believed the United States aimed to take control of Iraq's oil and was 'on its way to becoming a member of OPEC.'

Poul Nielson, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, was speaking after the United States and Britain introduced a U.N. draft resolution that would phase out an existing oil-for-food humanitarian program for Iraq.

'They (the United States) will appropriate the oil,' he told Danish public service DR radio news on return from a three-day trip to Iraq. 'It is very difficult to see how this would make sense in any other way.'

'I think that the United States is on its way to becoming a member of OPEC,' he added, referring to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Nielson, a Dane, said he did not expect U.S. troops who have toppled Iraq's Saddam Hussein in a war launched in March would withdraw soon from the Arab state, whose oil reserves are estimated by industry experts to be the second largest in the world after Saudi Arabia's.

'It is very unclear what the Americans will end up doing. That they would pull out quickly does not look realistic,' said Nielson, whose visit to Iraq included talks with U.S. administrator Jay Garner.

The tough U.S.-British draft Security Council resolution would end 12 years of U.N. sanctions against Iraq and give them control of the country's oil revenues for at least a year.

The proposal would deposit Iraqi oil revenues in an 'Iraqi Assistance Fund' for humanitarian and reconstruction purposes, to be held by the Iraqi Central Bank, currently managed by Peter McPherson, a former deputy U.S. Treasury secretary.

Nielson said Washington, whose draft resolution in effect relegates the United Nations and other international institutions to an advisory role with little power, planned to limit the U.N.'s role in Iraq.

'The unwillingness there is to give the United Nations a genuine real, legal well-defined role, also in the broader context of rebuilding Iraq after Saddam...also speaks a language that is quite clear,' Nielson said.

Denmark, a member of NATO, supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq. President Bush held talks with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Washington on Thursday.

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