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Iran Arms to Bosnia to be Election Year Issue
Gingrich, Dole Say Policy Undermines U.S. Credibility

By Jim Adams

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Congress's Republican leaders accused President Clinton's administration Wednesday of duplicity on 1994 Iran arms shipments to Bosnia and announced Senate and House inquiries on the affair. Charging that the stance was damaging U.S. credibility, Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the Iran arms shipments will be a major election-year issue.

House and Senate to Hold Hearings
Dole, Clinton's likely presidential election challenger, said the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees will investigate reports that the administration gave a signal to Croatia that it did not object to Iran arms shipments through Croatia to Muslim Bosnian government forces. The House International Relations Committee announced it will hold a hearing on the affair next Tuesday.

Dole told the Senate: "While we read and heard reports that Iran was smuggling arms to Bosnia, we did not know the president and his advisers had made a conscious decision to give a green light to Iran to provide arms. This duplicitous policy has seriously damaged our credibility with our allies," Dole said. "It has also produced one of the most serious threats to our military forces in Bosnia," Dole said.

Dole led an unsuccessful congressional effort to force Clinton to pull out of the U.N. arms embargo on grounds Bosnian Muslims should be allowed to arm and defend themselves against Bosnian Serbs. Gingrich also accused the Clinton administration of giving a green light to the Iran arms shipments to Bosnia at the same time he said it was denying to Congress and the public that it had any role in the shipments.

Gingrich: Administration Deceived Congress
"To have an administration deceive the Congress, deceive its allies, invite Iran into Europe undermines all of our policies in the Middle East," Gingrich said in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Gingrich ridiculed administration actions as described in a New York Times story Wednesday including a statement by an unnamed official that the administration did not give the arms shipments a green light but instead "turned off the lights." "No light is just a dishonest way to give a green light,'' Gingrich said.

The newspaper said Clinton himself was involved in administration discussions that led to a decision that U.S. diplomats should tell Croatian officials they had "no instructions" on what to say about Iran's plan to send arms to Bosnia through Croatia despite a U.N. Bosnia arms embargo.

The Washington Post said Tuesday that an internal administration investigation concluded that a U.S. diplomat went a step further when pressed by Croatian officials, saying the United States did not want to be in the position of saying no to the Iran arms shipments.

Dole announced after a meeting in his office with committee chairmen that the Intelligence Committee would investigate whether any administration officials were engaged in covert action and the Foreign Relations Committee would review policy issues. The Intelligence Committee received a briefing Tuesday on an internal administration report said to have concluded that while the United States did not break the arms embargo, its policy was so unclear and secretive that it created the impression in the region and even among some U.S. officials that the administration aided arms shipments.

Additional resources
Apr 16 · Republicans Challenge Clinton's Arms Nod
Apr 12 · Croatia Would Block More Iranian Arms to Bosnia
Apr 10 · Clinton: U.S. Did Nothing Wrong in Iran Arms Aid to Bosnia
Apr 9 · Iran Says it Supplied Humanitarian Aid to Bosnia
Apr 6 · Paper says Clinton Gave Nod to Covert Arms

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