AP: A lawmaker will seek a broad review of exports to Iran to see whether exemptions to U.S. trade sanctions are being abused. Cigarettes, bull semen and other goods have gone Iran's way as exports grew during President Bush's time in office.
The Associated Press
By SHARON THEIMER
WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawmaker will seek a broad review of exports to Iran to see whether exemptions to U.S. trade sanctions are being abused. Cigarettes, bull semen and other goods have gone Iran's way as exports grew during President Bush's time in office.
Rep. David Scott, vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade, said Friday that he will press for a congressional review of sanctions enforcement following an Associated Press investigation that found U.S. exports to Iran rose from about $8 million in 2001, Bush's first year in office, to nearly $150 million last year.
The goods — sent under agricultural, medical and humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions — also included soybeans, medicine and medical equipment, brassieres, musical instruments, cosmetics and military apparel, among other things.
"Once it's been brought to light, then it's our duty to go ahead and move on it and not just stand idly by," said Scott, a Georgia Democrat whose panel is part of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said he will reach out to Democrats and Republicans for a bipartisan review. "I think this is an issue that the full committee should take a look at."
Scott said he wants to know who is getting licenses to export goods to Iran, what they are shipping and whether the government is making sure it has accurate information about the exports. He said it worried him that the government's own records showed at least $106,635 in military rifles and $8,760 in rifle parts and accessories going to Iran during Bush's time in office, along with thousands of dollars worth of military aircraft parts.
The Bush administration looked into those exports after AP questioned them. It says the rifles and parts actually went to Iraq, and that Iran was erroneously entered on the shipping record. At least $13,000 in "aircraft launching gear and/or deck arrestors," equipment needed to launch jets from aircraft carriers, actually went to Italy, not to Iran as records showed, the administration said.
Scott said he wants to make sure Iran isn't getting U.S. military gear it shouldn't have, if the explanation about errors in the shipping records is accurate, and why no one looked until AP questioned it.
"There's been lax oversight by the administration in this area of exports," Scott said in a phone interview from Georgia. "We agree that there should be some types of exports going in to help the Iranian people with some very life-and-death kinds of situations, such as medicine and food and that sort of thing, but we need to figure out a way to make sure it's not being abused."
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