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New U.N. Sanctions Approved in Wake of Continued Fighting

By David B. Ottaway
The Washington Post

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia

Stiff new international trade sanctions against Serbia and the Yugoslav state it controls were set to take effect at midnight EDT Monday night following formal rejection by Serb nationalists in Bosnia of a U.N.-backed plan to end the three-sided factional war there.

The U.N. sanctions include a worldwide freeze on all Yugoslav financial assets, seizure of all Yugoslav planes, ships, trucks and other vehicles on foreign territory and a strictly enforced embargo on all road, sea, air and Danube River commerce involving Serbia and its satellite in the new two-republic Yugoslav state, Montenegro. The two republics have been the main source of political and logistical support for Bosnian Serb militia forces that have seized 70 percent of that republic in a year of aggressive warfare against Bosnia's Muslim and Croat communities.

The new sanctions, designed to augment a less rigorous trade embargo imposed on the Serbs and Montengrins last May, also bar the transshipment of goods across Yugoslav territory, forbid foreign vessels from approaching within 12 miles of Yugoslavia's Adriatic coast and specify tough new penalties for countries or individuals that violate the sanctions.

The restrictions were authorized by the U.N. Security Council on April 17 as part of a diplomatic effort to end the Bosnian war by encouraging Serbia to force its Bosnian Serb dependents to accept an international peace proposal that the Bosnian Muslims and Croats have already endorsed.

Some nations began to take steps to implement the sanctions well before the midnight deadline -- including France, Germany, Cyprus and the United States, where President Clinton signed an executive order freezing all Yugoslav financial assets in the country. At the same time, the president reiterated earlier remarks that the United States and its allies "need to move forward with a stronger policy in Bosnia," and he repeated a pledge made last week to decide what action to take "within several days."

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official predicted that the new sanctions would have a harsh impact on Serbia, Montenegro and the Bosnia Serbs they supply with food and weapons, but he stopped short of predicting the embargo will change the course of the war. Sanctions are not a "smart munition," he said, referring to radar-guided bombs that can be directed to their targets with pin-point precision.

Analysts said the Yugoslav financial situation is likely to get far worse quickly under the new sanctions. Early Monday, for example, the central bank of Cyprus declared a freeze on three major Yugoslav-controlled banks suspected of being used for legal and illegal transactions by the Belgrade government and hundreds of Serbian businessman to circumvent last year's U.N. sanctions.

Veteran British diplomat David Owen -- who formulated the Bosnian peace plan along with former U.S. secretary of state Cyrus Vance -- left here this morning after three fruitless days of talks with Bosnian Serb leaders and their Serbian clients, warning them that a serious confrontation with the world community was now inevitable unless there was "a sea change" in their policies.