Monday, January 24, 2011

Arms Sales to Iran After the October (1980) Surprise

The October Surprise deal with Iran did not end US secret and illicit arms sales there. Not counting the sales Associated with the so-called Iran-Contra deal, the United States sold at least $15 billion worth of arms to Iran. Billions more were sold to Iraq. These sales were illegal, violations of the Arms Export Munitions Control Act, but deemed necessary for policy purposes. According to the New York Times, Major General Colin Powell was among the first in the DOD to know that these arms were being transferred, and he facilitated the transfer of 2008 TOW missiles to the C.I.A. which was the middleman in the transaction. 1

Beginning in 1992, the C.I.A. also shared intelligence with Iraq. The act forbade third party transaction, but the latter offered some cover so North and others arranged elaborate third country arrangements. Former Attorney General John Mitchell and former Vice President Spiro Agnew also profited handsomely in arranging them. The profits were needed for Pentagon and intelligence covert operations, and some of the money went to finance the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

The weapons that went to Iran and Iraq were drawn from repositioned stockpiles without the knowledge of the NATO allies or the NATO commander. The allies would have objected as the shortage of arms would have meant at times that only a nuclear response would have been available had the Soviets attacked. The US arranged to let the Soviets learn of this arrangement through a prisoner exchange in 1986. By then the cat was out of the bag as the Italian government discovered that massive shipments were being made out of the ports of Talamone and Tuscania, and an Italian investigative judge turned out a 6,000 page on this part of the arms sales.

At that time, an arms salesman Arif Durrani testified that he witnessed \these dealings and ended up with a long prison term after a trial in which he was prohibited from introducing much evidence to support his claims. In addition, the Israelis sold huge quantities of weapons to Iran and then asked the US to replenish their arsenals. After Iran-Contra was revealed, huge shipments continued from US sources and Israel to Iran. While all of this was going on, the US through Vice President George H.W. Bush manipulated oil prices downward to assure that Iran would have problems buying everything it needed.

The idea was to make money on arms sales while still trying to pick a winner. There is also considerable evidence that Iraq received. Iraq was acquire US chemical weapons through third party channels. US authorities did not consider it a serious matter as these weapons were hard to store and use and had a short shelf life. Some chemical weapons producing equipment and others were shipped by Wakenhut from Eagle Pass,Texas to Chicago, and then to Baltimore. Equipment sometimes originated at a plant in Boca Rotan, Florida.

Some weapons purchases were made with loans diverted from US agricultural credit programs, and the department later had to mislead a House subcommittee under Charles Rose that looked into the matter. C. Nicholas Rostow, special assistant to President Bush, also wrote to departmentofficials on April 8, 1991, instructing them not to give Congress documents about this matter.

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