Stop Irans missile buildup

Developed countries' unquenchable thirst for oil and gas is threatening Israel's security.

Two measures now before Congress could reduce that danger by imposing economic sanctions on firms or countries aiding Iran.

A proud supporter of terrorist groups and a declared enemy of the United States and Israel, Iran is close to developing ballistic missiles that could reach Israel. The missiles could carry nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

To succeed, however, Iran needs cash and technical know-how.

A second European company is in the process of clinching an oil deal with Iran that would pump billions of dollars into Iran's economy. And there are persistent reports that Russian firms are aiding Iran with missile technology.

Last year, President Clinton signed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which uses the threat of sanctions to persuade firms not to invest in Iran.

But the European Union has voiced opposition to applying U.S. law to foreign companies. As a result, the Clinton administration has considered exempting all firms based in European Union nations as long as Europe backs other U.S. efforts to contain Iran.

That's not enough.

The Gilman-Gejdenson letter, currently circulating through Congress, calls on Clinton to invoke pre-existing sanctions.

In addition, a new bill before Congress would force the president's hand in imposing related sanctions. The bill would bolster the 1991 Missile Technology Control Act, which the administration has been reluctant to invoke.

Known as the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997, the new bill requires the administration to submit a list of those transferring goods, technology or technical aid that boost Iran's missile buildup. The bill would automatically impose economic sanctions.