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Wed, Jun 13, 2007

House Votes Again To Ban Sales Of F-14 Parts To Iran

Measure Awaiting Senate Approval

Just in case the message didn't come through the first time, this week the US House of Representatives voted a second time to ban the sale of surplus parts off the Pentagon's recently retired fleet of F-14 Tomcats.

As ANN reported last month, the House first approved the "Stop Arming Iran Act" as a rider attached to military funding legislation. Apparently not content with letting that be, the House again voiced its approval of the measure -- this time, as a freestanding bill, H.R. 1441 -- on Monday.

If that sounds a bit like governmental overkill... well, yeah, it does to us, too. But the importance of cutting off a possible source of parts for Iran, as that country aims to keep its 1970s-vintage Tomcats flying, justifies the redundancy, lawmakers said this week.

"We cannot take the risk that parts unique to the F-14 could be made available to Iran," said Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, co-sponsor of the bill with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. By prohibiting the sale of spare F-14 parts to any entity other than US museums, Giffords said her bill would "put an end to military surplus sales that may inadvertently be helping to sustain Iran's air force."

Arkansas Representative John Boozman called the bill "an appropriate and timely measure" to add to other protections in place to keep surplus parts out of the hands of countries hostile to the United States.

At least once, Iran was able to procure parts sold through a Defense Department auction, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The Islamic republic -- the only country still flying F-14s in its military -- is one of the countries named by President George W. Bush in 2002 as part of an "axis of evil."

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense suspended the sale of surplus F-14 parts -- as well as parts from other aircraft, that could be used on Tomcats -- while it conducted a voluntary review of its procedures.

The bill is expected to win approval in the Senate, after which time it would be sent to the President for approval. The White House has not commented on whether President Bush would sign the bill... although given the thorny relationship between the two countries, it's difficult to see him vetoing it.

Incidentally, the second House vote Monday came as Iran suddenly called off talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency, on the state of its nuclear program.

FMI: www.dod.mil, www.congress.gov

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