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The Export-Import Bank of the United States Goes to Bat for the Mullahs

10:56 AM, Dec 4, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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A source on the Hill informs THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the US government Export-Import Bank is fighting the Banking Committee Iran Sanctions bill, passed out of committee last month on a unanimous vote and which is now sitting on the Senate calendar while supporters push for it to be approved by unanimous consent. One of the reasons the Export-Import Bank is fighting it is Section 102, which deals with sanctioning entities that provide assistance to Iran -- namely, Export-Import is one of them.

The Export-Import has given loan guarantees to companies that are doing business in Iran, including, in one case, to the Reliance corp of India, which was using Ex-Im support to build a refinery, and then to sell refined petroleum to Iran. That loan prompted vocal criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman put together a bipartisan letter in the House late last year, while Senators Lieberman and Kyl raised similar concerns among their colleagues in the Senate. Sherman said at the time that while he supports "the Export-Import Bank's mission of supporting US exports...we must ensure that when we provide assistance, the corporate recipients are not doing business with our enemies."

Now the Export-Import bank is trying to scuttle bipartisan, broadly supported Senate legislation that would sanction companies doing business with Iran even as Iran thumbs its nose at the Obama administration and threatens to build ten new enrichment facilities.

The language our government bankers object to:

`(2) PRODUCTION OF REFINED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS-

`(A) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (f), the President shall impose the sanctions described in section 6(b) (in addition to any other sanctions imposed under this subsection) with respect to a person if the President determines that the person, with actual knowledge, on or after the effective date of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009, sells, leases, or provides to Iran any goods, services, technology, information, or support described in subparagraph (B)--
`(i) any of which has a fair market value of $200,000 or more; or
`(ii) that, during a 12-month period, have an aggregate fair market value of $1,000,000 or more.

`(B) GOODS, SERVICES, TECHNOLOGY, INFORMATION, OR SUPPORT DESCRIBED- Goods, services, technology, information, or support described in this subparagraph are goods, services, technology, information, or support that could directly and significantly facilitate the maintenance or expansion of Iran's domestic production of refined petroleum products, including any assistance with respect to construction, modernization, or repair of petroleum refineries.