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Members of Congress Urging Clinton to Block Sale of Jets, Parts to Iran

Members of Congress this week urged President Clinton to block a possible $900 million sale of jet engines and aircraft to Iran.

The administration is considering allowing the sale of 16 Boeing 737-400 jets, with accompanying General Electric engines, that could have so-called dual-use, or both civilian and military, applications.

Iran is currently one of six countries on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, and Secretary of State Warren Christopher recently referred to the country as an “international outlaw.”

At least 150 members of Congress signed a letter to Clinton, to be delivered Friday, arguing that the proposed sale runs counter to stated American policy.

“It is hypocritical to even consider the sale of these aircraft, when we know that Iran poses a substantial danger to worldwide security.

“In order to maintain a consistent and forceful Iran policy, the U.S. must not make this sale,” the letter stated.

At a news conference Thursday, organizers of the letter stressed their belief that the sale will send the wrong signals to U.S. allies and undermine the United States’ moral position in the world community.

Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.), an organizer of the letter and of the news conference, called the sale illegal under current U.S. law.

He cited the 1992 Iran-Iraq Non-Proliferation Act, which, he said, “requires the Department of Commerce to deny export licenses to any company seeking to do business with Iran.”

The representatives emphasized the lessons of history, and of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when discussing the risks involved in selling dual-use technology to countries such as Iran.

Other organizers of the letter and news conference were Reps. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ronald Dellums (D-Calif.).

A group of U.S. senators was also warning Clinton this week of the dangers posed by Iran.

In a letter delivered to the president Wednesday, the senators urged Clinton to be aware of the need to curtail Western trade and credits to Iran as he prepared for the meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in Tokyo.

“Iran is emerging as the greatest threat to American allies in the region,” read the letter, which was organized by Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and signed by 30 senators.

“Iran plans to take delivery of long-range missiles from North Korea, has bought submarines from Russia, and has reached agreements on nuclear technology with China and Russia,” the letter said.

REMINDER: The JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published Monday, July 5.

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