In another case of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ the US government has granted special licenses allowing American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted over the past decade, despite sanctions and trade embargoes. The NY Times said it found 10,000 licenses were approved by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, because they were deemed to serve U.S. foreign policy goals. According to the Times report, the recipients of these licenses included Kraft Foods, Pepsi and some of the largest U.S. banks.
Under federal law, U.S. companies can trade with blacklisted countries if the Treasury approves the transactions as medical or humanitarian necessities, especially in relieving famine. But the examination also found cases in which the humanitarian or foreign policy benefits were not clear, like selling popcorn, chewing gum, cigarettes and body-building supplements. It cited one instance in which a U.S. company was permitted to bid on a pipeline job that would have helped Iran sell natural gas to Europe, contrary to stated policy. Treasury officials noted that the permitted trade was inconsequential compared with the broad scope of U.S. sanctions, however the general sentiment of the Times story is that these special deals undermine America’s leadership of tough sanctions on Iran, North Korea and other nations.