US exports to Iran up a third
WASHINGTON - Reuters
Two potential Iranian customers look at fabric bolts in Tehran’s old main bazaar, Iran, as two merchants sit at left. US exports to Iran rose by nearly a third this year, chiefly because of grain sales, according to US data released last week. AP photo
U.S. exports to Iran rose by nearly a third this year, chiefly because of grain sales, according to U.S. data released last week, despite the tightening of U.S. financial sanctions.
The jump to $199.5 million in the first eight months of 2012 from $150.8 million a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data, is surprising given Western efforts to isolate Iran economically because of its suspected pursuit of nuclear arms.
The increase masks a drop in the export of some humanitarian goods such as medicines, a decline U.S. exporters blame largely on the difficultyof getting paid by Iranian importers because of new U.S. financial sanctions.
But it also shows that goods such as milk products and medical equipment - whose sale to Iran is allowed with a Treasury Department export license - continue to flow despite the sanctions and the payments difficulties.
The U.S., its European allies and other nations have imposed the sanctions to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program and address questions about its nuclear programs.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic program is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.
The economic penalties are one side of a two-pronged policy that also includes talks to seek a diplomatic solution. But that has been somewhat overshadowed this year by the possibility of Israeli or U.S. military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Without grain sales exports would have fallen
The largest category of U.S. exports to Iran through August, 2012 was $89.2 million in sales of wheat and other grains. During the same 2011 period, the United States exported no wheat or such grains to Iran, though it sold $21 million of maize.
Without the wheat sales, U.S. exports to Iran would have declined through August overall, sharply in some cases.
Medicinal and pharmaceutical products, including those sold in bulk and those for animals, fell to $14.9 million from $26.7 million. Pulp and waste paper, a category that includes the raw material for diapers, sank to $17.4 million from $40.9 million.
However, exports rose in several other categories. Sales of milk products including cream, butter and other fats and oils derived from dairy more than doubled to $20.3 million from $7.8 million.
Medical, dental, surgical and other “electro-diagnostic apparatus” rose to $8 million from $4.7 million.
Although Iran can still import such goods, U.S. companies have complained for months that it is harder and harder to get paid because Iran’s big banks have been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for alleged support for terrorism or involvement in the its alleged weapons of mass destruction programs.
EU’s new sanctıons for Iran
LUXEMBOURG -- Associated PressBritain, Germany and France say they expect the European Union to approve even tougher sanctions on Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said ahead of yesterday’s meeting of EU foreign
ministers that new sanctions would be “a sign of our resolve in the European Union that we will step up the pressure.”
Hague said such pressure would continue to mount “over the coming months unless negotiations succeed. We remain open of course to success of negotiations.”
The foreign ministers of France and Germany made similar calls. They did not elaborate on the kind of measures under consideration.