Bush under fire for increased U.S. exports to Iran
www.chinaview.cn 2008-07-18 16:34:13   Print

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 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 Morning America."

    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 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.

    (Agencies)

Editor: Gareth Dodd
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