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Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Pentagon May have Funded Iran Fuel Sales to Afghan Army

Afghan National Army personnel repairing engines

with US Army technical adviser, September 2012

Source: Army Times

Sometimes, I wonder who is minding the store at the Department of Defense (DoD).  Such is the case with a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on findings that between 2007 and 2012, the Pentagon funded $1.1 billion in fuel purchases for the Afghan National Army (ANA).  Afghanistan gets nearly half of its fuel from Iran; the balance comes from Russia and Turkmenistan.  Thus, the DoD may have inadvertently violated prohibitions under Economic sanctions against trade with the Islamic Republic for its pursuit of nuclear enrichment and weapons development. To compound the difficulty of determining the extent of fuel imports from Iran, the Afghan government’s   customs information is in disarray.  This was further compounded by the tardy implementation in late 2012 of certification procedures by the Pentagon.  As the Brits would say this is a bullock.  Actually the WWII GI term FUBAR would likely describe this bureaucratic gem.

Here is what SIGAR found   as reported by the AFP :

US funds may have served to buy fuel for Afghan security forces from Iran in direct contravention of America's economic sanctions on Tehran, a US watchdog warned Wednesday.

The office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction urged the Pentagon to boost oversight of how US money is being spent, particularly amid moves to direct funds straight to Kabul.

Accurate data is hard to come by because of unreliable Afghan customs figures, but the State Department told SIGAR that Afghanistan imports between a third and half of all its fuel from Iran.

Between 2007 and 2012, Washington shelled out some $1.1 billion to buy and deliver imported fuel to the Afghan army, Inspector General John Sopko said in his report.

"The fact that the United States has paid for the acquisition and delivery of imported fuel for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)... raises concerns that US funds could have been used to pay for imports of fuel potentially in violation of US economic sanctions against Iran," he wrote.

  But the Pentagon "lacked certification procedures prior to November 2012 and had limited visibility over the import and delivery sub-contracts used by fuel vendors," Sopko said in the report sent to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"As a result, DoD is unable to determine if any of the $1.1 billion in fuel purchased for the ANA (Afghan National Army) between fiscal year 2007 and 2012 came from Iran, in violation of US economic sanctions."

The inspector general also noted that it will become more difficult for the Pentagon to account for how US funds are used as Washington begins transferring funds directly to Afghanistan  starting in March.

"The US government may need to take steps to place safeguards on its direct assistance funding -- over $1 billion alone for ANSF fuel from 2013-2018 -- to ensure that the Afghan government does not use the funds in violation of US economic sanctions," the report warned.

Congress will have a field day with this.  I can just see CENTCOM and the State Department squirming while they are skewered by  the SIGAR findings.  Maybe we should have the Afghan government skim the ANA fuel costs off their take of the country’s massive drug trade.  What the Pentagon has is an exploding SIGAR.

Posted on 01/30/2013 9:29 PM by Jerry Gordon
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