Special Report: Iran Nuclear Crisis
BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Democratic
presidential candidate Barack Obama and other key lawmakers took verbal shots at
the White House on Wednesday for increased exports to Iran despite its tough
talk about nuclear ambitions and meddling in Iraq.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the value
of U.S. exports to Iran has grown significantly during President Bush's years in
office ¡ª from about 8 million U.S. dollars in 2001 to nearly 150 million dollars
last year. The exports, made under agricultural, medical and humanitarian
exemptions to U.S. trade sanctions, included cigarettes, bull semen, corn,
soybeans and medicine, among other goods.
"It's that kind of mixed signal that has led to the
kind of situation that we're in right now," Obama said Wednesday on ABC's "Good
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
Howard Berman, remarked on the growth in U.S. trade during comments on the
European Union's recent move to toughen financial sanctions on Iran.
"It's time for them to take far more significant
steps along the lines of cutting off all significant commerce with Iran, as we
did years ago ¡ª or at least I thought we did. I'm not so sure, after yesterday's
Associated Press report that U.S. exports to Iran have increased nearly
twenty-fold during the Bush administration years, up to nearly $150 million in
2007," Berman, D-Calif., said at a committee hearing Wednesday.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said the growth in U.S.
exports didn't make sense to him at a time when the United States was trying to
pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear efforts. He said the United States needs to
set a strong example for the rest of the world on Iran.
Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., asked Undersecretary of
State William Burns to respond to the AP's findings and what he called a "sort
of schizophrenic approach" to U.S. trade with Iran.
Burns replied that the U.S. government's quarrel is
with the government of Iran, not with its people, and that U.S. shipments
account for a tiny fraction of Iran's total imports.