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UK rejects 17 percent of exports licences for Iran

British exports to Iran last year continued to be hit by the UK government's unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic that date back to the 1980-'88 imposed Iraq war, IRNA reported from London.

According to the Foreign Office's latest annual report on strategic exports, 16 out of 92 Standard Individual Export Licence (SIEL) applications made by British companies for Iran were refused in 2002.

The 17 percent of total rejections was less than the 20 percent refused in 2001 when 67 applications were accepted and the same number 16 rejected.

But the increase did not prevent the value of approved sales, worth pnds 11 million (dlrs 18m) last year, to fall from pnds 19.5m in 2001, pnds 20m in 2000 and pnds 36m in 1999. No value was placed on the refusals.

Only one of the applications approved were from Britain's so- called Military List to cover drilling equipment sold for use in Iran's oil industry that contained explosive devices.

All others were classed as other items and included laboratory equipment, components for civil aircraft, software, digital technology and testing and measuring equipment.

Of the refusals, all were listed as other items that tend to be largely classified as goods with potential dual use. None were from the Military List.

The report also showed that for the first time the British government approved two Open Individual Export Licences to cover components and military parts used for civil aero-engines.

Iran is uniquely singled out by Britain under a unilateral sanctions regime, originally implemented 20 years ago using emergency legislation at the height of Iraq's 1980-88 war.

The UK imposes embargoes against more than 20 countries, but apart from the recent sanctions against Zimbabwe, all others are in line with sanctions from the UN, EU or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Following the Scott report into the UK government breaching its arms embargo against Iraq, the unilateral sanctions against Iran were clarified in a ministerial statement in 1993. A ministerial statement in 1998 set out further restrictions on non-conventional and dual-use goods.

In an attempt to boost sales to Iran this year, the UK for the first time normalized its export licence assessments, no longer making Iran an exception to the procedure of providing responses to applications within 20 days. Previously there was no time limit.

Announcing the relaxation in March, Foreign Office Minister Michael O'Brien said the government was scrapping the mandatory scrutiny of export licences under the so-called Iran Working Group in order to "reduce delays for UK exporters," O'Brien said.

The normal procedure is to assess licence applications on a case- by-case basis against the UK national criteria, including the risk of weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

... Payvand News - 7/2/03 ... --

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