Tuesday, January 16, 2007

AP: Iran gets army gear in Pentagon sale

WASHINGTON (AP) - Fighter jet parts and other sensitive U.S. military gear seized from front companies for Iran and brokers for China have been traced in criminal cases to a surprising source: the Pentagon.
In one case, federal investigators said, contraband purchased in Defense Department surplus auctions was delivered to Iran, a country President Bush has branded part of an "axis of evil."
In that instance, a Pakistani arms broker convicted of exporting U.S. missile parts to Iran resumed business after his release from prison. He purchased Chinook helicopter engine parts for Iran from a U.S. company that had bought them in a Pentagon surplus sale. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say those parts did make it to Iran.
Sensitive military surplus items are supposed to be demilitarized or "de-milled" - rendered useless for military purposes - or, if auctioned, sold only to buyers who promise to obey U.S. arms embargoes, export controls and other laws.
Yet the surplus sales can operate like a supermarket for arms dealers.
"Right Item, Right Time, Right Place, Right Price, Every Time. Best Value Solutions for America's Warfighters," the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service says on its Web site, calling itself "the place to obtain original U.S. Government surplus property."
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