AFP: A senior US lawmaker called for diplomatic repercussions on Washington’s ties with Iraq and Afghanistan if the countries do not cooperate on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. WASHINGTON (AFP) — A senior US lawmaker called for diplomatic repercussions on Washington’s ties with Iraq and Afghanistan if the countries do not cooperate on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asked Pentagon chief Leon Panetta and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to detail what measures are being taken to prevent Tehran’s efforts to bypass sanctions through financial dealings brokered by Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The Iranian regime is trying to access the financial sectors of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the energy sector of Iraq, to provide Tehran with crucial foreign currency reserves at a time when sanctions are having an effect,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote in a letter to Panetta and Geithner.
Iran faces economic sanctions from the international community over a nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at developing arms, although Tehran denies the charge, saying it serves to produce energy for non-military purposes.
The New York Times reported last week that Iraq has illegally shipped oil to the Islamic Republic and that Tehran has been allowed to participate in currency trading operations in daily auctions at an Iraqi bank.
Baghdad has denied the claims.
In Afghanistan, “Kabul and Kandahar are now reportedly being utilized as financial centers through which the Iranian regime can circumvent sanctions,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“Given the US investment of blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is vital that the Iraqi and Afghan governments cooperate with the US and other responsible nations to address the Iranian threat.”
She warned that if Baghdad and Kabul to do not cooperate, bilateral security arrangements with the countries should be reconsidered.
“Failure to cooperate should be met with a reconsideration of bilateral security arrangements,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote.