US corporations still sell to “hostiles”
|July 15, 2008||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
US corporations still sell to “hostiles”
Fundamentalist state gets goods, even weapons
We trim this 2008 article by the Associated Press of July 8.
By Sharon Theimer
US exports to Iran — including brassieres, bull semen, cosmetics, and weapons — grew more than tenfold during President Bush’s years in office even as he accused Iran of nuclear ambitions and helping terrorists.
America sent more cigarettes to Iran, at least $158 million worth under Bush, than any other product, more than twice that of the No. 2 category on the export list, vaccines, serums and blood products worth $73 million.
Trade in a range of goods survives on-again, off-again sanctions originally imposed nearly three decades ago. The rules allow sales of agricultural commodities, medicine, and a few other categories of goods. The exemptions are designed to help Iranian families even as the United States pressures Iran’s leaders.
Sanctions are intended in part to frustrate Iran’s efforts to build its military, but the US government’s own figures show at least $148,000 worth of unspecified weapons and other military gear were exported from the United States to Iran during Bush’s time in office. That includes $106,635 in military rifles and $8,760 in rifle parts and accessories shipped in 2004.
Also shipped to Iran were at least $13,000 in “aircraft launching gear and/or deck arrestors,” equipment needed to launch jets from aircraft carriers. Yet Iran’s navy is not believed to own or operate any carriers.
Those numbers may seem small, but military items can sell for pennies on the dollar compared with what the Pentagon paid. Last year, federal agents seized four F-14 fighter jets sold to domestic buyers by an officer at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, Calif., for $2,000 to $4,000 each, with proceeds benefiting a squadron recreation fund. When F-14s were new, they cost roughly $38 million each.
Bush this year signed legislation prohibiting the Pentagon from selling leftover F-14 parts. The law was prompted by AP reporting that buyers for Iran, China, and other countries exploited Pentagon surplus sales to obtain sensitive military equipment that included parts for F-14 “Tomcats” and other aircraft and missile components.
Iran received at least $620,000 in aircraft parts and $19,600 worth of aircraft during Bush’s terms. Iran relies on spare parts from other countries to keep its commercial and military aircraft flying. In some cases, US sanctions allow shipments of aircraft parts for safety upgrades for Iran’s commercial passenger jets.
The Securities and Exchange Commission sought to shine a light on companies active in Iran but stopped after business groups complained. The Treasury Department allowed some companies and individuals suspected of illegal trading with Iran to escape punishment. Yet the Bush administration also has collected millions of dollars in fines from trade-rule violators and pressed Congress without success to pass laws to strengthen enforcement.
The United States sent Iran $546 million in goods from 2001 through last year. It exported roughly $146 million worth last year, compared with $8.3 million in 2001, Bush’s first year in office.
The United States counted more than $1 trillion in world exports last year. The value of US shipments last year to Canada — America’s top trading partner — was more than 1,000 times the value of shipments to Iran.
An AP photographer strolling through shops in Tehran had no problem finding American brands on the shelves. Dozens of US companies that have done business in Iran in recent years or said their products or services may have made it there through other channels. Some are household names: PepsiCo, Tyson Foods, Canon, BP Amoco, Exxon Mobil, GE Healthcare, the Wells Fargo financial services company, Visa, Mastercard and the Cadbury Schweppes candy and beverage maker.
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