Iran fuel may be part of U.S.-funded Afghan supply deals: report
By Daniel Fineren
DUBAI (Reuters) - Fuel purchases made for Afghan security forces using U.S. government funds may have included Iranian petroleum products in violation of U.S. sanctions, investigators said in a report published late on Wednesday.
Afghanistan relies heavily on imported fuel and Iran, Russia, and Turkmenistan are the leading countries of origin, the report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says.
But the watchdog said it could not rule out the possibility of sanctions violations in purchases for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) that are financed by the U.S. taxpayer.
"Despite actions taken by the Department of Defense to prevent the purchase of Iranian fuel with U.S. funds, risks remain that U.S. economic sanctions could be violated," Special Inspector General John Sopko said in the report.
U.S. sanctions intended to starve oil-export dependent Tehran of funds for its disputed nuclear program ban nearly all U.S. trade with Iran, including financing Iranian petroleum product purchases.
Since December Sigar, created by Congress to oversee reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, has investigated allegations of potential sanctions violations in fuel purchasing for the ANSF.
It concludes that while the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has made some progress in tightening controls over fuel sourcing for Afghan security services since November, there remains a risk that U.S. taxpayer dollars could continue to flow to Iran. Continued...