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  • Saturday, February 26, 2005

    Curbing arms sales begins at home

    An interesting article from the International Herald Tribune: Curbing arms sales begins at home

    Case in point: Sinopec, China's state-owned oil and gas giant, has subsidiaries that the State Department has hit with sanctions four times since 1997 for selling to Iran materials that could be used to make chemical weapons. However, because these subsidiaries do little or no business with the United States, the punishments - curbs on trade with America - were purely symbolic. Sinopec itself has extensive ties with American companies, dealings Washington could block. Yet the United States refuses to punish it for anything its offshoots do. The reason is simple: American sanctions laws were written so that the government can hold a parent company responsible only if it "knowingly" assists a sale by its subsidiary, a burden of proof U.S. intelligence agencies can rarely meet. Why? Because the U.S. government is largely unwilling to hurt the financial interests of American firms that do business with companies like Sinopec.
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