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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.
Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton first became public knowledge in January 2005 when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars gas-drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered to the Cayman Islands. Following the announcement, Halliburton claimed that the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. According to a BBC report, Halliburton, which took thirty to forty million dollars from its Iranian operations in 2003, “was winding down its work due to a poor business environment.”
However, Halliburton has a long history of doing business in Iran, starting as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company. Leopold quotes a February 2001 report published in the Wall Street Journal, “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 company’s name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.” Moreover mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded directly to its Dallas headquarters.
During a trip to the Middle East in March 1996, Vice President Dick Cheney told a group of mostly U.S. businessmen that Congress should ease sanctions in Iran and Libya to foster better relationships, a statement that, in hindsight, is completely hypocritical considering the Bush administration’s foreign policy.
“Let me make a generalized statement about a trend I see in the U.S. Congress that I find disturbing, that applies not only with respect to the Iranian situation but a number of others as well,” Cheney said. “I think we Americans sometimes make mistakes . . . There seems to be an assumption that somehow we know what’s best for everybody else and that we are going to use our economic clout to get everybody else to live the way we would like.”
Cheney was the chief executive of Halliburton Corporation at the time he uttered those words. It was Cheney who directed Halliburton toward aggressive business dealings with Iran—in violation of U.S. law—in the mid-1990s, which continued through 2005 and is the reason Iran has the capability to enrich weapons-grade uranium.
It was Halliburton’s secret sale of centrifuges to Iran that helped get the uranium enrichment program off the ground, according to a three-year investigation that includes interviews conducted with more than a dozen current and former Halliburton employees.
The next day Halliburton announced the South Pars gas field project would be its last in Iran. The BBC reported that Halliburton, which took in $30-$40 million from Iranian operations in 2003, “was winding down its work due to a poor business environment.”
But the controversy over a key nuclear negotiator signing up big oil contracts with a U.S. oil giant did not die down in Iran. Hard-line members of Iran’s parliament demanded to question Nasseri over his oil deals and an influential Tehran daily reported that the Ministry of Oil was handing over multi-million-dollar contracts to Oriental Oil Kish while much of the company’s operations exist only on paper.
In July 2004, a Federal grand jury empanelled in the Southern District of Texas issued a subpoena to the Halliburton Company for the production of documents related to potentially criminal activity by current and former executives who may have violated U.S. terrorist sanctions
law. The grand jury was assembled after the case was referred by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to the U.S. Department of Justice.
At issue is a foreign subsid iary of Halliburton, called “Halliburton Products & ServicesLimited,” that has only one source of revenue: business with the Iranian government and its national oil company. While U.S. sanctions law prohibits American companies, like Halliburton, from doing business with Iran, a loophole in the law allows the foreign subsidiaries of a U.S.
company to conduct business with terror-sponsoring states. However, Halliburton may have egregiously abused that loophole by conducting decision-making on Iran operations not out of the
foreign subsidiary, but out of the U.S. parent company or its U.S.-based subsidiaries – a serious
violation of the law. The Treasury Department has now referred a criminal case to the Department of Justice
regarding Halliburton’s business dealings. The Department of Justice has sent the case to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, who has assembled a Federal grand jury. If indictments are filed against current or former Halliburton executives, the criminal charges carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison.
“We're kept out of there primarily by our own government, which has made adecision that U.S. firms should not be allowed to invest significantly in Iran, and I think that's a mistake.”
“While American companies have to sit on the sidelines, oil companies from
the rest of the world have invested in Iran’s energy sector, sometimes without operating the same high standards.”
LANSDOWNE, United States (AFP) — Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday the United States would not permit Iran to get nuclear weapons and warned of "serious consequences" if it refuses to stop enriching uranium.
Cheney, considered the US administration's toughest hardliner on Iran, did not mention the possibility of military action amid reports that President George W. Bush could be laying the stage for war with the Islamic republic.
"The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences," he said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.