Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Undersecretary of Commerce Addresses WINEP on Iran

On July 22, U.S. undersecretary of commerce Mario Mancuso, who leads the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) addressed the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Mancuso said, “While Iran is not ten feet tall -- much less ascendant -- it nonetheless represents a challenge that is as comprehensive as it is grave.”

Mancuso told the audience that BIS is responding to the Iranian threat in the following ways:

“First, we are refining the list of items that we control to ensure that we are focused on sensitive items. Because very little can be traded today with Iran, this initiative operates indirectly, but powerfully, by focusing attention and resources to our global non-proliferation efforts.

“Second, to enhance the export control system's overall effectiveness, we are providing more information to our private sector stakeholders -- our front-line partners in the enforcement of our regulations-- about customers around the world that raise concerns for us.

“Currently, we maintain three separate lists: the Denied Parties List, the Unverified List, and the Entity List. The Denied Parties List is a list of individuals and entities that have been denied export privileges. The Unverified List is a list of parties where BIS has been unable to verify end use in the past. The Entity List is a list of parties whose participation in a given transaction triggers license requirements. All of these lists are available on our website, www.bis.doc.gov.

“Third, we are sharpening our enforcement efforts to focus on those areas of greatest concern to us: proliferators, terrorists, and nations of illicit transshipment concern. Every day, our BIS special agents work closely with other federal law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security, to conduct investigations and punish violations of our export control regulations. Our agents also work with our colleagues in the national security and intelligence community to provide expert analytic support to broader national security efforts.

“This past May, with critical BIS support, DOJ successfully prosecuted two separate cases of a U.S. exporter attempting to ship radiographic and computer equipment to Iran. In another recent case, BIS special agents provided crucial support to indict two munitions dealers for conspiring to transfer military aircraft parts to Iran. Some of the particular charges in this latter case carry up to a twenty-year prison sentence, and fines of up to $1 million.

“When foreign companies take controlled U.S. technology and illegally transfer it, they also face serious repercussions. In the past few weeks alone, we have issued several Temporary Denial Orders suspending the export privileges of multiple non-U.S. companies and individuals for knowingly re-exporting U.S. origin aircraft to Iran. These are just a few of the Iran-related cases our team is actively working on. There have been others in the past, and we suspect that there will be significant other cases in the future.

“Finally, we are also working with our partners and allies around the world to enhance their system of export controls in order to eliminate gaps in the system and to maximize the effective impact of our efforts."

Mancuso called for the reauthorization of the Export Administration Act (EAA), which has been in lapse since 2001, and applauded Senator Christopher Dodd's (D-CT) for introducing legislation to reauthorize it. Mancuso said the administration strongly supports this legislation, and urged Congress to move quickly to pass it.

Read the full text of Mancuso’s prepared remarks here.

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