Contextual Content

Resolution calls for embargo against Iran

The most strongly worded section of the legislation is article three, which states: "Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress – (3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia [among other things], prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program."

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Story Transcript

MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST, TRNN: A concurrent resolution effectively demanding a blockade of Iran looks fast-tracked for passage in Congress. House Resolution 362 calls for President Bush to ban all exports of refined petroleum going into Iran by imposing, quote, "stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran." Although Iran sits on some of the largest oil reserves in the world, it relies on imports for over 40 percent of its refined petroleum. I asked investigative historian Gareth Porter why Congress suddenly believes that this aggressive action is necessary.

GARETH PORTER, INVESTIGATIVE HISTORIAN: Well, first of all, we have to understand that this resolution has a "whereas" clause which involves a series of charges about Iran’s nuclear program which are totally false. I mean, they simply are factually inaccurate and can be easily documented. They talk about "covert, illicit" Iranian nuclear measures, and then it lists them. It includes things such as importing centrifuges, manufacturing centrifuges, and things that are clearly not illegal under the Nonproliferation Treaty or under Iran’s agreements with the IAEA. The Iranians declared in 1982 and again in 1992 their intention to master the nuclear fuel cycle, to have nuclear enrichment, to have uranium enrichment. And the IAEA publicly declared that they supported that.

PALEVSKY: The possibility that House Resolution 362 could lead to a blockade has led antiwar activists to label it the "Iran War Resolution," even though it clearly states in the final "whereas" clause, "nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran.

PORTER: The language of the House and Senate resolutions tries to suggest that it doesn’t involve the use of force. Well, you know, it does involve the use of force, just as the blockade at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis involved the use of force. And it is in effect a declaration of war against any country that tries to export goods to Iran, and particularly, of course, petroleum goods to Iran.

PALEVSKY: The rapid endorsement of this resolution has been credited to the pro-Israel lobby, specifically the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which sent thousands of its members to Capitol Hill to lobby for the resolution in early June. Porter believes that Congress was responding more to the Israel lobby than to any new intelligence on Iran or events on the ground.

PORTER: The US Congress has been so subject to AIPAC influence for so long that it has become almost a reflex now for most members of Congress to simply accept whatever AIPAC gives them, without any question, without any discussion, and to turn that into legislation. This is clearly an Israeli initiative. I don’t think that the administration has gone on board in terms of a blockade of Iran. Of course, John McCain talked about this in his AIPAC speech earlier this month. It was proposed by a former deputy national security adviser of Israel, Chuck Freilich, late last year in an article. But, you know, this is something that the US government has not signed onto, and it’s clear that this is a strategic move by Israel to maneuver the United States into a position where it would be more difficult to avoid it.

PALEVSKY: Porter also believes that recent tension between Iran and the US had been partially responsible for the rise in oil prices and that this kind of diplomacy can only push prices higher.

PORTER: If you look at the price of oil over the last 50 years, you look at where the spikes are, they are all politically or policy-caused spikes in price of oil at the world level. We know that there’s no demand-side cause of these spikes in oil prices. We know that they are influenced by the decline of the dollar. No doubt about that. But the decline of the dollar, of course, is also influenced by, you know, the overall political situation and the overall economic situation and speculation. In other words, these two factors of the war risk, if you will, and the decline of the dollar are interactive. And so we know that there’s a huge influence on the part of US policy toward Iran and Israeli policy toward Iran on the world price of oil, and that very well could be a factor that could hold back the administration in the final analysis.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.