Treasury Dept. Allows U.S. Companies to Sell “Humanitarian” Gum, Popcorn, Cake Sprinkles to Iran

Sunday, December 26, 2010
American companies aren’t supposed to be doing business with Iran or other nations hit with economic sanctions, unless they’re providing food or humanitarian aid. But thanks to a broadly written law whose original intent was to limit exports to agricultural goods or medicine, an the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has been granting thousands of licenses to all kind of U.S. businesses trading with blacklisted countries.
According to an investigation by The New York Times, Companies like Kraft Food and Pepsi, as well as some of the nation’s largest banks, have been making money from deals with Iran, Sudan, Cuba and other regimes. Items such as cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, microwavable popcorn, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment have been exported despite sanctions.
One company, McCormick & Co., sold food colorings and cake sprinkles to an Iranian chain store whoe leading official include members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. government deems a terrorist organization.
American businessmen have tried to help build a natural gas pipeline to Iran, while others have sought deals with foreign companies suspected of being involved in terrorism or weapons proliferation.
In the first ten months of 2010, U.S. companies exported $170 million worth of goods to Iran and imported $94 million.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


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