U.S. exports to Iran rise nearly one-third despite sanctions

Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:03am EDT
 
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By Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. exports to Iran rose by nearly a third this year, chiefly because of grain sales, according to U.S. data released last week, despite the tightening of U.S. financial sanctions.

The jump to $199.5 million in the first eight months of 2012 from $150.8 million a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data, is surprising given Western efforts to isolate Iran economically because of its suspected pursuit of nuclear arms.

The increase masks a drop in the export of some humanitarian goods such as medicines, a decline U.S. exporters blame largely on the difficulty of getting paid by Iranian importers because of new U.S. financial sanctions.

But it also shows that goods such as milk products and medical equipment - whose sale to Iran is allowed with a Treasury Department export license - continue to flow despite the sanctions and the payments difficulties.

The United States, its European allies and other nations have imposed the sanctions to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program and address questions about its nuclear programs.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic program is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.

The economic penalties are one side of a two-pronged policy that also includes talks to seek a diplomatic solution. But that has been somewhat overshadowed this year by the possibility of Israeli or U.S. military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

WITHOUT GRAIN SALES, EXPORTS WOULD HAVE FALLEN   Continued...