Around Town …

  • The QRS-11 is back in the news this week.  QRS what?  In 2006, the Boeing corporation paid a $15 million fine and signed a consent decree with the U.S. government t stemming from the the unlicensed foreign sales of commercial airplanes carrying a small gyrochip with military applications, the QRS-11.  This time it was not a major corporation in trouble, but a fellow the government calls an Iranian Arms Procurement Agent (i.e., an arms dealer).  Mr. Amir Hossein Ardebili pled guilty to multiple violations of the Arms Export Control Act, International Emergency Economic Powers Act, smuggling, conspiracy, and money laundering.  According to the Justice Department, the charges result from “a three year international undercover investigation which exposed Ardebili’s role as a prolific arms acquisitions agent for the government of Iran.”  Just the ammunition needed by several Congressional Committees that are considering closing several loopholes in the Iran sanctions regulations.
  • The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) issued a letter to President Barack Obama signed by more than 100 CEOs urging him to take action on a number of initiatives to modernize the export control system.  According to a press release, the letter identifies five areas of reform to improve the export control system that do not require new legislation.     It is very true that reform is needed, but why would you want to work around the Congress on issues such as these?  It is almost inviting Members and staff to weigh in before the process even gets off the ground.  Almost all of the five points listed in the letter will require some form of Agency/Congressional collaboration, if not legislation.  Be careful how you waive the talisman.  The letter can be read here.
  • Not sure how long it has been posted on the Commerce Department website, but thought we would pass along anyhow because it seems like a fairly recent addition.  The Bureau of Industry and Security has posted video of presentations from its 2009 conference, “Facilitating Secure Trade,” held September 30 – October 2 in Washington, DC.  You can access the videos here.
  • The editorial board of the Dallas Morning News penned an editorial earlier this week urging “harsh sanctions” to weaken the Iranian regime and create changes in the government.  Fair enough.  Then they made took a perfunctory swipe at U.S.-Cuba sanctions, saying that “not all trade blockades force change, as a five-decade U.S. embargo of Cuba has demonstrated.”  A quick glance at the latest screeds from the Cuban regime propaganda machine tell another story.  Anyhow, economic sanctions are tools, not regime change weapons.  Tougher sanctions on Iran and Cuba are long overdue, but it will only work if it is part of a process where diplomatic doublespeak takes a back seat to robust action by the United States and our allies.
  • And while on the subject of diplomatic doublespeak, according to Andres Oppenheimer, Brazil, the U.S., and the Organization of American States (OAS) have earned a gold medal for flunking.  In his latest op-ed he says that the three “deserve a gold medal each for their awful handling of Sunday’s presidential elections in Honduras.”  Indeed.  The Obama Administration eased already weak sanctions on Cuba, but, working with Brazil and the OAS, imposed a series of sanctions on democratic Honduras.  Oppenheimer is wrong to call what happened in Honduras a coup, legally, it was anything but.  However, we’ll give him some points on calling to task the Obama Administration’s National Security Council team for bungling U.S. relations and stability in the Americas with the indiscriminate use of economic and political sanctions.
%d bloggers like this: