United States Sold Iran More Than $500 million in Goods During Bush’s Term

An Iranian soldier, after drinking a Pepsi

According to Andy Carpenter at HoweStreet, the Bush administration sold a whole lot more to Iran than a bad reputation. He says that (via the AP) the United States sold the heart of the Axis of Evil more than $500 million in goods during Bush’s time in office.

The top exports to Iran:

$158 million in cigarettes
$68 million in corn
$64 million in chemical wood pulp, soda or sulphate
$43 million in soybeans
$27 million in medical equipment
$18 million in vitamins
$12.6 million in bull semen
$12 million in vegetable seeds

Items pending Bush administration approval:

$101,000 in bras
$175,000 in sculptures
about $96,000 in cosmetics
$8,900 in perfume
$30,000 in musical instruments and parts
$21,000 in golf carts/snowmobiles
$4,000 in movie film
$3,300 in fur clothing


What’s interesting about the exports is that last year the US Securities and Exchange Commission published a list of companies that do business in Iran or four other countries the State Department considers state sponsors of terrorism.

The SEC withdrew the list after business groups complained that such a list could inappropriately label corporations as supporters of terrorism.

The AP discovered more than 10 big corporations conducting business in Iran. These “sponsors of terrorism” include:
Wells Fargo Financial Services
BP and Exxon Mobil
GE Healthcare
Cadbury Schweppes

US soldiers, who have been heckling Iranis on their own soil, will at least get a Hawaiian Punch to refresh them in Iran’s extremely arid climate.

This embargo, it seems, is really not an embargo at all.

  • Doug Weber

    kinda seems to me like this is an indication that we are continueing to sell them some things that might just make the Iranian people happier with the USA (and the west in general). Remember that the US has an official policy of encouraging the people of Iran to reject the current government and create their own democracy.

    Why show a picture of an Iranian soldier in this story when if you look at what we have sold them it seems pretty clear to me that we are not selling to their military?

  • Patrick

    Not quite sure your banging on Bush for this. Your welcome to give us a Howard Dean yell if you like next time.

    Embargoes/Sanctions are usually about military gear or things that are dual use, civilian and military. Often they hit the ruling oligarchy as well for their personal wealth. Your list was all pretty straightforward consumer goods. No reason to embargo them.

    There is always some trade going on between countries even when they don’t have formal relations.

  • Drea

    The Bush banging has to do with the rift between his strong rhetoric and the fact that “U.S. exports to Iran grew more than tenfold during President Bush’s years in office even as he accused it of nuclear ambitions and sponsoring terrorists.” (AP). If Bush’s main priority was to protect this country from terrorists, and he really wanted to hit Iran hard, would his administration not have limited even consumer good exports, in order to weaken the country? Or at least stabilized, rather than increased them? That’s the part I don’t understand.

  • I understand the bras, they’re important when your trying to run away from a potential roadside bomb. But I don’t get the fur clothing???? I mean, these guys still live in the desert right?

    By the way…ef Bush! And if there were some sort of trade going on between countries, then why the hell can’t I get my Cuban cigars??

  • NashEntLaw

    I’m the first to criticize hypocrisy from politicians, especially when it involves taking a firm stance on a matter of “national security” only to be trumped by corporate financial security. And while I likewise agree that the sharp increase in exports is questionable, it’s worth noting that there are very specific classes of goods excluded from the embargo, two of which are agricultural goods and medicine/health supplies.

    Again, while it is suspicious that the quantity of exports would increase so much, and even more so when cigs are so high on the list, I’m sure all Americans would otherwise agree that giving Iranian civilians the benefit of Western agricultural and medicinal products is a good thing.

  • Drea

    Robert–I was wondering the same thing about the fur coats. I think their might be some mountains in Iran, at its border with Turkey (Kurdish territory) that would warrant fur coats. Then I wonder whether the fur coat is a gift to one or two people–those things get expensive. Hmm. Regarding Cuba: I read through a couple of embargoes, and it looks like the US might be more stringent on imports from enemy countries than exports to them. Big shame, when you think about the rum, cigars, and Persian rugs we’re missing out on!

    Nash–I’m not sure what conditions in Iraq are like right now, but I agree that any impoverished population could benefit from seeds, medicines, and the like. I noticed that there’s barely any kind of limit on informational materials from the US: Persians get propoganda with their Dr. Pepper.

    The notion I’m getting from comments is that it’s quite normal to trade with “enemy” countries. I visited Cuba in 2003, on one of the last legal trips, and didn’t find any American products. Word was that American companies did trade with Cuba through dummy corporations based in other countries, but I wasn’t seeing anything resembling Cadbury’s, Pepsi, Wells Fargo, etc. In fact, we all had to bring along massive wads of cash because credit cards/ATM machines were out of the question. Agri. trade was also limited back then–beans and rice were so poor-quality that you always had to pick out rocks and bugs before cooking. I acknowledge that things may have changed in Cuba since then, and it’s interesting to think that Iran is a bigger potential threat, but still gets more schwag than Cuba, which has just been sitting there for years.

  • Hey Nash-

    I agree, give them all the meds and food they can take….right after we feed our own. I am certainly not a closed minded guy who doesn’t see the value in helping others…but I can’t put some of the kids to bed hungry every night and feed the others, I have to feed all of them.

    But that requires pulling back on military aid provided to half the globe at no cost and….you know what, before I go off completely here, we should feed everyone we can but feed ourselves first. You can’t feed the rest of the planet if you haven’t eaten.

    Canada, Australia, England, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, they don’t care how many of our kids go hungry, just keep the bread coming, oh, and the AR-15’s, and the M1A1 Abrams tanks…and the F-15’s, don’t forget to bring the F-15’s!