Republican News

WASHINGTON – Senator Frank H. Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today released the following statement after introducing an amendment to the energy bill which would prohibit all future imports of petroleum from Iraq until certain conditions are met: “I think most Americans would be shocked to realize that we rely so heavily on Saddam Hussein for our energy. Right now, one out of every nineteen gallons of gas in your tank comes from Iraq. Americans pay Saddam more than five cents of every dollar we spend at the pump. That doesn’t make sense.” “On one hand, we make a fist at Saddam, enforcing a no-fly zone to keep him in check. But our other hand is wide open, willing to buy up to a million barrels of Iraqi oil each day. Oil we use to drive our kids to school, move our economy forward, and fuel our fighter jets that enforce the No-Fly zone. We lost 147 brave Americans in the Gulf War, how many more lives will we have to sacrifice for Iraqi oil? “The United Nations’ ‘Oil-for-Food’ program allows Iraq to export petroleum in exchange for funds which can be drawn on for food, medicine and other humanitarian products to help the people of Iraq. I think it is a well intentioned program meant to help innocent Iraqis caught under the boot of an evil leader. Despite more than $15 billion available for those purposes, Saddam has spent only a fraction of that amount on his people’s needs. Why does $200 million of medicine from the UN sit undistributed in Iraqi warehouses? “Much of the ‘Oil-for-Food’ money is laundered to help finance Saddam’s grip on power. Other funds pay for his weapons programs. Some food intended for the Iraqi people is sent elsewhere in the Middle East to help solidify support for Saddam in other countries. “Iraq has blatantly walked right past the program all together to smuggle billions of dollars of oil into the world market. Last year, more than $3 billion in smuggled oil reached world markets through pipelines to Syria and Jordan and through Persian Gulf shipping lanes. We lost two brave U.S. sailors last year in the Gulf trying to stop this smuggling. “Remember, this is not ‘Oil for Food.’ Smuggled Iraqi oil is ‘Oil for Terror’ -- the money that buys smuggled oil goes directly to fund the organizations and individuals who keep Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi prong of the Axis of Evil in power. “Ending our reliance on Iraqi oil will help us more clearly devote our energies to ridding the world of the scourge of Saddam Hussein. “This prohibition will only be lifted when Iraq allows UN inspectors access to suspected sites for the development of weapons of mass destruction; and ends it prolonged effort to cheat the UN Oil for Food program by smuggling oil out through third countries.” ###