Bush: Iran, Libya Sanctions to Stay
US President George W. Bush said Thursday he has no immediate plan to remove economic sanctions on Iran or Libya, although a White House task force has raised the possibility of lifting those restrictions as a way of increasing US access to oil, according to the Washington Post.
Bush was quoted as telling reporters that his administration has been considering ways to ease the tight global market for petroleum but that it is premature for the United States to eliminate the sanctions on those two countries.
"In our energy review, we are looking at all opportunities to create more energy supply, to take the pressure off prices," he told reporters. "At the same time, I think it's important for the country to review all sanction policies to make sure they are effective. But I have no intention as of this moment [of] taking sanctions off countries like Iran and Libya."
His remarks came after The Washington Post and Reuters reported that an energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney has been working on a draft report calling for the United States to review economic restrictions on Iran, Libya and Iraq.
An April 10 draft says that United Nations sanctions on Iraq and US restrictions on energy investments in Libya and Iran "affect some of the most important existing and prospective petroleum producing countries in the world."
Bush's brief comments did not mention Iraqi sanctions, said the Post, adding that the administration is seeking international support for easing the economic embargo on Iraq while tightening the restrictions on Baghdad's ability to import military goods and materials for developing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
The president instead addressed Iran and Libya, which are at the center of a debate over whether Congress should renew the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) for another five years when it expires in August.
The oil industry, which has been pressing for the restrictions to be lifted, redoubled its lobbying on Capitol Hill after a Scottish court in the Hague convicted a Libyan intelligence agent in January of involvement in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
But Bush indicated at the presser that Libya must take further steps required by the United Nations for sanctions to be lifted.
"We've made it clear to the Libyans that the sanctions will remain until such time as they not only compensate for the bombing of the aircraft, but also admit their guilt and express remorse," he said – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)