- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2010

ENFORCE SANCTIONS

Congressmen Mark Steven Kirk andRon Klein may not have a lot in common — Mr. Kirk is a Republican from Illinois and Mr. Klein is a Democrat from Florida — but they are on the same page, literally, on the urgency to enforce sanctions against Iran.

In a one-page letter to President Obama, they warned him that the sanctions adopted earlier this year are already being ignored and they cited the giant Russian oil company, LUKOIL, which has gas stations throughout the United States, as one of the prime violators of the U.S. law.

“Time is running out to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” they said, adding that the theocratic regime that has long pledged to wipe out Israel has rejected Mr. Obama’s offer of face-to-face negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Despite your offer of engagement, Tehran remains undeterred in advancing its illicit nuclear program and exporting terrorism around the world,” they said.

“Sanctions represent the most viable diplomatic tool to pressure the government of Iran to change course and meet its international obligations. Without rigorous enforcement, however, our efforts will be rendered from ineffective to inexcusable.”

Mr. Kirk, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, and Mr. Klein, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed that Lukoil reportedly supplied 250,000 barrels of gasoline to Iran just within the last month. Despite being an oil exporter, Iran must import gasoline because of its limited refinery capacity.

LUKOIL operates 2,000 retail gas stations in 13 states, and both Illinois and Florida have raised concerns about the firms investments in Iran, the congressmen said.

“No company should be allowed to skirt the Iran sanctions act,” they said. “Therefore we ask you to enforce the law and hold companies like LUKOIL accountable without delay.”

‘HEARTFELT’ SUPPORT

As president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Frank Duggan knows there “seems to be no end to the misery” for the relatives of the 270 people who died when a Libyan terrorist blew up the American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

Friday just added to the grief. Aug. 20 marked the one-year anniversary of Scotland’s decision to release Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Libyan agent sentenced to life in prison for masterminding the attack. The victims included 189 Americans.

Mr. Duggan told Embassy Row that the families he represents hold great respect for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who denounced Scotland’s decision to release Megrahi. Scotland said its action was based on compassionate grounds for the terrorist, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only three months to live. But he is still alive.

Mrs. Clinton — as secretary of state, a New York senator and as first lady — demonstrated strong support for the Pan Am families. Mr. Duggan called her support “heartfelt and appreciated.” He also said the one-year anniversary of Megrahi’s release only deepens the pain for the victims’ relatives.

“There seems to be no end to the misery,” he said.

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