Bill would stop sale of spare parts to Iran

AP/NY Times:

A Democratic senator wants to cut off all Pentagon sales of surplus F-14 parts, saying the military's marketing of the spares ''defies common sense'' in light of their importance to Iran.

Sen. Ron Wyden's bill came in response to an investigation by The Associated Press that found weaknesses in surplus-sale security that allowed buyers for countries including Iran and China to surreptitiously obtain sensitive U.S. military equipment including Tomcat parts.

The Oregon Democrat's legislation would ban the Defense Department from selling surplus F-14 parts and prohibit buyers who have already acquired surplus Tomcat parts from exporting them. Wyden's bill, the Stop Arming Iran Act, is co-sponsored by the Senate's No. 2 lawmaker, Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois.


The Tomcat is the fighter jet made famous in the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster movie, ''Top Gun.'' The U.S. military retired its F-14s last fall. That leaves only Iran -- which bought the fighter jet in the 1970s when it was a U.S. ally -- flying the planes.

U.S. law enforcement officials believe Iran can produce only about 15 percent of the parts it needs for its Tomcats, making the Pentagon's surplus sales a valuable avenue for spares.

The Pentagon already plans to sell about 60 percent of the roughly 76,000 parts for the F-14, viewing them as general nuts-and-bolts-type aircraft hardware that can be sold safely to the public without restrictions.

Some of those spares from the newly retired fleet likely have already been sold, Jack Hooper, a Defense Logistics Agency spokesman, said Monday. The Defense Department plans to destroy about 10,000 other components it considers unique to the F-14.

The agency is reviewing 23,000 other parts it believes it can sell under existing law. But it said it will consider their potential value to Iran.

The legislation makes sense. That it is even necessary makes little sense unless existing legislation requires the DOD to sell spare parts for discontinued planes. The article does not address that issue and just assumes that mindless bureaucrats are helping the enemy. They could be, but a fair question would be put to them to see if that is the case.


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