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U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN NEED SUPPORT FROM ALLIES

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Secondary sanctions are a second-rate solution to suspected terrorism spawned in Iran and Libya unless U.S. allies jump on the bandwagon.

So far, that doesn't appear to be happening. But if suspicions are confirmed that those nations were involved in the recent TWA or Dhahran, Saudi Arabia bombings, the allies must be persuaded to join.Of course, Western sanctions are nothing new to Iran and have been marginally effective at best. Washington initiated the economic squeeze play in 1979 with limited trade sanctions when Iran's pro-American monarchy was replaced with fundamentalist Islamic clerics hostile to the United States.

Sanctions were tightened in June 1995, barring U.S. firms from all direct or indirect trade with Iran. American allies refused to join those prohibitions, and U.S. companies have lost an estimated $2 billion in contracts in the past year.

Now the United States continues to stand as a lonely voice in a call for measures designed to punish not only Iran and Libya, but also "friends" who continue to conduct business with those nations. New congressional legislation authorizes the U.S. government to impose penalties on foreign companies that invest more than $40 million annually in Iranian or Libyan energy industries. The European Union and Russia already have voiced opposition to the measure.

And that's the problem. If European allies won't lend their weight to sanctions, very little meaningful pressure can be applied against Iran and Libya. The Clinton administration should remind allies that acts of terrorism against Western nations threaten their citizens as well as Americans.

TWA Flight 800 was an intercontinental flight bound for Paris. French citizens lost their lives, along with Americans. Yet in the past year a French oil company clinched a $1 billion contract for an energy project in Iran after United States-based Conoco was forced to withdraw due to sanctions.

If it is determined that the TWA jumbo jet was downed by a bomb and that Iran had some role in that cowardly act, it would be unconscionable for France to continue "business as usual" with Iran.

The allies need to strongly weigh the economic gain of business dealings with hostile nations against the irresponsibility of selling technology that is turned around and used against them.

Sometimes dollars and cents need to be sacrificed to a sense of responsibility and an interest in democracy.