Reuters - Democratic lawmakers on Friday requested an investigation into why the State Department delayed word of sanctions on two Indian companies for Iran-related dealings until after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a nuclear agreement with New Delhi.
WASHINGTON, July 28 (Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers on Friday requested an investigation into why the State Department delayed word of sanctions on two Indian companies for Iran-related dealings until after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a nuclear agreement with New Delhi.
In a letter, Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California and two colleagues asked the State Department's inspector general -- who is authorized to conduct independent reviews of department activities and personnel -- to determine if a report detailing the sanctions was intentionally withheld.
"Not only did the State Department have a legal responsibility to deliver this report to Congress, they have a responsibility to the American people not to play games when it comes to national security," Tauscher said in a statement released by her office.
"We must get to the bottom of this issue and see whether or not the State Department manipulated a crucial national security measure before the United States Congress," she added.
The administration decided earlier in the week to impose sanctions on two thus-far unnamed Indian companies for what U.S. officials told Reuters were missile-related transactions with Iran.
Tauscher and other critics have accused the administration of withholding conclusive word on sanctions against Indian firms until after Wednesday's House vote on the nuclear deal, so the issue would not affect the vote.
The sanctions were imposed under terms of the U.S. Iran-Syria Non-proliferation Act, which aims to stem the transfer of weapons-related technology to two states Washington considers threats.
The department is supposed to report violators to Congress every six months but the report released this week was months late.
Tauscher said the report still has not been released, although members of the House International Relations Committee were informed about the sanctions the day of the vote on the India deal.
The letter demanding the inquiry was also signed by Democrats Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Barbara Lee of California.
The United States considers Iran -- patron of the Hizbollah Islamic militant group fighting Israel in Lebanon -- a major international threat, accusing it of building nuclear weapons under cover of an energy program. Tehran denies the charge.