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U.N. Security Council Votes To Add Sanctions on Libya

By Julia Preston
Special to The Washington Post


The Security Council voted Thursday to tighten trade sanctions on Libya to force the turnover of two suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland.

The new sanctions, which go into effect Dec. 1, included a ban on sales to Libya of equipment for refining and exporting petroleum and a limited freeze on Libyan financial assets overseas. They expanded sanctions imposed in March 1992 that reduced Libyan diplomatic representation abroad, sought to ground the national airline and embargoed arms sales.

The decision Thursday retained those measures while adding the new restrictions but it fell well short of the global oil embargo President Clinton promised to seek in a campaign pledge to relatives of those who died on the sabotaged flight.

The Security Council adopted the resolution, put forward by the United States, France and Britain, by a vote of 11 in favor and none opposed, with four abstentions: China, Djibouti, Morocco, and Pakistan. The three allies gained one more vote in favor-from Cape Verde-than when the earlier sanctions were adopted. Russia, which recently threatened to veto the measure, voted in favor after intense negotiations between Moscow and Washington.

The resolution "demonstrates for all to see that this Council is steadfast in its opposition to international terrorism," said U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright after the vote. "To those who say it is not strong enough, I ask this: Why did Libya try so hard to stop this resolution if the sting of its new sanctions is so mild?"

About two dozen of the victims' relatives were present. Most praised the move though they remained skeptical that it would work.

"The Security Council has shown it is not willing to stand by while Libya continues to defy the world," said Rosemary Wolfe, the leader of a relatives' group. Her stepdaughter Miriam was aboard the flight that exploded over Lockerbie, killing 270 people on board or on the ground below. But Wolfe added: "We hope next time they will go for the full embargo."

Germany and Italy, which rely heavily on petroleum imported from Libya, opposed the proposed oil embargo.

Thursday's resolution further reduces Libya's diplomatic missions, sets up new restrictions to block Libya's national airlines and impedes the country's maintenance of its airfields.

But the financial freeze exempts Libyan income from petroleum and agricultural products -- Libya's only significant exports. Libya earns an estimated $10 billion a year from oil sales. Also, as more than two months have elapsed since the Council began to consider the new sanctions, Libya had ample time to withdraw its funds from foreign accounts.