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Nobel laureates condemn Iraq oil law, U.S.

June 20, 2007 at 5:31 PM   |   Comments

BAGHDAD, June 20 (UPI) -- Six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates weighed in on the proposed Iraq oil law, worried Iraq's citizens will lose out, and urging the United States to back off.

The laureates, half of the 12 women ever to win the peace prize, said they are opposed to the law, fearing it will lead to poor contract terms for the Iraqi people and potentially lucrative contracts for foreign oil companies while the country is both under occupation and enduring a civil war.

"The Iraq oil law could benefit foreign oil companies at the expense of the Iraqi people, deny the Iraqi people economic security, create greater instability, and move the country further away from peace," Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Wangari Maathai wrote in a statement posted on their Web site, nobelwomensinitiative.org.

They also took issue with the U.S. government's pressure on Iraq to pass an oil law. President Bush has led administration officials in urging the Iraqi Parliament pass the law to mark some semblance of success in Iraq, saying it will lead to reconciliation. The Democratic-led U.S. Congress included it as a benchmark in recent funding for the war.

"The U.S. government should leave the matter of how Iraq will address the future of its oil system to the Iraqi people to be dealt with at a time when they are free from occupation and more able to engage in truly democratic decision-making," the laureates wrote. "It is immoral and illegal to use war and invasion as mechanisms for robbing a people of their vital natural resources."

The oil law is stuck in negotiations: The Kurdistan Regional Government and the central Iraq government can't agree on control over the vast oil reserves -- the third largest in the world.

Iraq oil experts also have said constitutional issues should be addressed first. The powerful oil unions and Sunni political factions have warned against a law that includes contracts giving foreign companies too much access to or ownership of the oil.

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