Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Slapping Iran

Note the appropriate verb employed by AP writer Jeannine Aversa:

The Bush administration on Wednesday slapped financial sanctions on a major Iranian shipping line and its affiliates for allegedly helping to transfer military-related arms and cargo.

The departments of State and Treasury announced the action against the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, also known as IRISL, and 18 of its affiliates for providing logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which controls Iran’s ballistic missile research, development and production activities.

The action means that any bank accounts or other financial assets belonging to the company that are found in the United States are frozen. Americans also are forbidden from doing business with the company and its affiliates.

Is anyone else outraged that, up until today, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines was free to keep liquid assets in the U.S. and do business with Americans? If such obvious and mild steps as these constitute the kind of eleventh-hour emergency tactics we’re banking on, we might as well keep business relations open and make a few bucks while the mullahs make their weapons.

“Not only does IRISL facilitate the transport of cargo for U.N. designated proliferators, it also falsifies documents and uses deceptive schemes to shroud its involvement in illicit commerce,” Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrrorism and financial intelligence said in a statement. “IRISL’s actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile program,” he claimed.

Uncovering an operation that complex and diffuse requires months of intelligence work. Why were these sanctions not instituted at the first sign of IRISL wrongdoing? Better yet: Why were they not instituted preventatively, considering IRISL has always been intimately involved with the government in Tehran?