Republican News

WASHINGTON – Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after the Senate late today approved his amendment to ban the importation of all Iraqi oil by a vote of 88-10: “The Senate today voted to bring our energy policy in line with our national security policies. 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. Right now, almost a half gallon in the tank of your average sedan comes from Iraq. “The same oil we use to drive our kids to school and move our economy forward also is used to fuel our fighter jets that enforce the No-Fly zone over Iraq. That doesn’t make sense. 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; stops rewarding Palestinian suicide bombers; and ends it prolonged effort to cheat the UN Oil for Food program by smuggling oil out through third countries.” ###