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Halliburton and Iran: the 70s to the present [List Edits]

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Open Edit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-05-07 12:53 AM
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Halliburton and Iran: the 70s to the present
Edited on Wed Sep-05-07 12:57 AM by eridani
This new topic is awaiting edits. It was started by eridani.,12271,1678219,00....

Operation Merlin has been one of the most closely guarded secrets in the Clinton and Bush administrations. It's not clear who originally came up with the idea, but the plan was first approved by Clinton. After the Russian scientist's fateful trip to Vienna, however, the Merlin operation was endorsed by the Bush administration, possibly with an eye toward repeating it against North Korea or other dangerous states.

Several former CIA officials say that the theory behind Merlin - handing over tainted weapon designs to confound one of America's adversaries - is a trick that has been used many times in past operations, stretching back to the cold war. But in previous cases, such Trojan horse operations involved conventional weapons; none of the former officials had ever heard of the CIA attempting to conduct this kind of high-risk operation with designs for a nuclear bomb. The former officials also said these kind of programmes must be closely monitored by senior CIA managers in order to control the flow of information to the adversary. If mishandled, they could easily help an enemy accelerate its weapons development. That may be what happened with Merlin.

Iran has spent nearly 20 years trying to develop nuclear weapons, and in the process has created a strong base of sophisticated scientists knowledgeable enough to spot flaws in nuclear blueprints. Tehran also obtained nuclear blueprints from the network of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, and so already had workable blueprints against which to compare the designs obtained from the CIA. Nuclear experts say that they would thus be able to extract valuable information from the blueprints while ignoring the flaws.

What the current Bush Administration is asserting, particularly through its news agency Fox News, is that it needs to prevent Iran from achieving the exact same nuclear capabilities that President Ford and his key appointees, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were encouraging Iran to accomplish 30 years ago. Iran, a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, is guaranteed the right to develop peaceful nuclear power programs – regardless of whether the United States approves or disapproves the politics or political leadership of that country; a point that Iran has repeated over and over again. For 30 years, Iran has proclaimed that it needs nuclear power since its oil and gas supplies are limited, just like the United States, and therefore has the legal right to produce and operate nuclear power plants. Thirty years ago, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld agreed. Today, Cheney and Rumsfeld appear to be crawling out of their skins with uncontrollable militarized lust for control of Iranian oil fields via a U.S. occupied, Iran. The NEO-CON war drumbeaters have already devised their plans for the liberation of the people again, this time Iranian people, and making things all better, just like they have done in Iraq. Scary stuff, but it is true. In preparation, the Bush Administration has primed the mainstream media so effectively that 8 out of 10 Americans believe Iran poises an immediate nuclear threat to the United States. The President’s recent and risky travel to regional nuclear powers, Pakistan and India, no doubt also served as a strategic warning to those countries to prepare for the certain public backlash to be expected once the U.S. or Israel begins to drop bombs on Iran.

Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, Halliburton Products and Services Limited (HPSL) works out of an office in Dubai. Halliburton claims that HPSL is an "independent" foreign subsidiary that is not directly managed by U.S. citizens. Halliburton argues that it therefore does not have to pay taxes on HPSL's revenues. The argument continues that, not being managed by U.S. citizens, Halliburton’s foreign subsidiaries are not subject to U.S. legal restrictions.

But the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains that "U.S. persons may not approve, finance, facilitate or guarantee any transaction by a foreign person where that transaction by a foreign person would be prohibited if performed by a U.S. person or from the United States."4 No matter. Besides, perhaps I miss the point but how can HPSL be both a "subsidiary" and "independent" at the same time?

Ever since the start of the Bush administration, anyone who cared to know could learn that Halliburton was under Federal investigation for violating sanctions against Iran. It is also common knowledge – that is, among those who care to know – that some of the deeds in question may have begun when Vice-President Dick Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO in the 1990s nor has there been a criminal prosecution in relation to any of them.5

Illegal or not, HPSL’s work in Iran has been interesting. In January 2005, after an Iranian newspaper reported it, Halliburton admitted that HPSL won a sub-contract from Oriental Kish Oil, a private Iranian company, to develop a section of the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf. But supposedly fearing for national security, the new Ahmadinejad regime blocked HPSL’s participation in the project in September (a high-level Oriental Kish executive was also a key negotiator with the IAEA and western powers about Iran's civilian nuclear program).6

It was sometime during this period, sources claim, that Halliburton sold components for nuclear reactors to Iran via HPSL. If this is true and if the Iranian nuclear program does have a military component, the implications are unspeakable. Did representatives of Halliburton, or any of its corporate entities, consider risks to U.S. national security during phases of the South Pars negotiations? Does HPSL still keep an office in Tehran? These are not trivial questions for besides HPSL, at least five Halliburton foreign subsidiaries have sold products and services to customers in Iran (incidentally, this information is confirmed by a 2003 company report posted on the Halliburton website).7

What does America’s most famous former Halliburton employee think about his old company’s purported links with Iran? When he was CEO in 1998, Cheney put it this way: "I think we'd be better off if we…backed off those sanctions didn't try to impose secondary boycotts on companies...trying to do business over there." Straight-shooting talk but are they the words of a rugged patriot?8 In some people’s minds, they may conjure up memories of unpunished treason by certain "U.S. persons" during World War II.

According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at former Cheney company Halliburton allege that, as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company. Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies.

Additionally, throughout 2004 and 2005, Halliburton worked closely with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish, to develop oil projects in Iran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team. Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July 2005 for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information.

Halliburton Co., the U.S. oil-services giant until recently headed by Vice President Richard Cheney, has opened an office in Tehran and operated in Iran in possible violation of U.S. sanctions, Thursday's Wall Street Journal reported.

Since 1995, U.S. laws have banned most American commerce with Iran. Halliburton Products and Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is 'non-American.' But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the Dallas company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.

Mr. Cheney's spokesman, Juleanna Glover-Weiss, declined to comment, except to say that 'the vice president is no longer head of Halliburton and has severed all ties to the company.'

But a U.S. official said a Halliburton (HAL) office in Tehran would violate at least the spirit of American law. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control declined to comment on a specific company, referring inquiries to a Web site summary of Iran sanctions that bans almost all U.S. trade and investment with Iran, specifically in oil services. The Web site adds: 'No U.S. person may approve or facilitate the entry into or performance of transactions or contracts with Iran by a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. firm that the U.S. person is precluded from performing directly. Similarly, no U.S. person may facilitate such transactions by unaffiliated foreign persons.'

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