Iraq began pumping crude Tuesday night to terminals for export the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean and the Iraq port of Basra on the Persian Gulf, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Naji Sabri told The Associated Press Television News.
Oil Ministry officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the first oil shipment was expected to be loaded onto a tanker at Ceyhan late Wednesday or early Thursday.
Baghdad halted its exports to protest a British proposal backed by the United States to impose "smart sanctions" by allowing an unlimited flow of goods into Iraq while tightening an arms embargo.
Facing a Russian veto on the Security Council, Britain abandoned the proposal for now, and the world body instead extended the so-called oil-for-food program. That program allows Iraq to sell oil provided the money is used to buy food and other humanitarian goods.
Iraq demanded the full lifting of sanctions in place since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions can be lifted only after Iraq dismantles its weapons of mass destruction and the capability to produce them.
Iraq insists it has fulfilled the conditions for lifting the sanctions, but has refused to let U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country since December 1998.
© MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed