Named: 83 Pentagon Contractors Who Do Business With Iran, North Korea And Other Us Enemies

The New York Times published on Christmas Eve a story exposing nearly 300 US companies that hold special export licenses allowing them to do “billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism.”

The companies include such household names as Pepsi, General Electric and Bank of America. The countries include such international pariahs as Sudan, Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

With a little database work, I filled in one missing facet of the story. At least 83 of the companies listed by the Times as having multiple special export licenses are Department of Defense contractors.

Regardless of whether you agree with the policy of blacklisting, or its particulars, it’s hard to understand why the US government would allow top military contractors to cut deals with declared adversaries. The Times reports that many of the special licenses “were deemed to serve American foreign policy goals”—whatever that means. Other exemptions were inexplicable except perhaps as kickbacks.

There’s another angle to all this double-dealing. Yesterday, I took note of a post by John Quiggin at Crooked Timber. Quiggin argues that wartime profit spikes for “the elite or the capitalist class” are not a key reason behind America’s penchant for doomed foreign occupations and insistence on excessive military budgets. Quiggin oversimplifies the process by which private profits influence military policy, but I’ll let him finish making his case before I pick at it. He continues,

[W]hile some businesses obviously benefit from, and lobby for, war, there are plenty more who would prefer to make money trading with putative enemies like Iran and Iraq.

That sounds good, in theory. A look at the evidence here reveals another story.

The fact is, some major American corporations and military contractors are perfectly able to trade with putative enemies right now—and presumably at enviable margins, given the scarcities imposed by sanctions. Therefore they have no economic incentive to advocate for peace.

It gets uglier. Should an actual shooting war break out, these contractors may stand to gain from a surge in spending by their best customer, the US military—even though they would temporarily lose out on those special trade opportunities.

In short, big military corporations can’t really lose. They don’t have to play by the same rules as ordinary businesses. And it’s increasingly clear that profit-minded military contractors—not rule-bound Pentagon bureaucrats—wear the pants in this incestuous relationship.

Here’s the list of US military contractors holding extra-special export licenses, derived from the Times’ reporting, and the blacklisted countries or organizations with which they’ve done business. The list runs in descending order by the number of export licenses held, from over 200 in the case of Bank of America and GE, down to five at the bottom.

Update January 6, 2011: In addition to the companies below, which received at least five special export licenses, the Times highlighted some exemptions granted to other companies as examples. That second list also includes a number of defense contractors, including World Fuel Services Corporation, Raytheon Company, Louis Berger Group, Samco Global Arms Inc., FMC Technologies and Bell Helicopter Textron.


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[/visitor] [access capability=“read_walled”]

Bank of America

Cuba, Iran, Kosovo, Sudan, Non-Proliferation, Multiple, Iraq, Burma, Weapons Mass Destruction, Yugoslavia, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers

General Electric

Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Cuba


Iran, Iraq, Sudan

Boston Scientific Corporation

Iran, Iraq

Datascope Corp


Pfizer Inc

Iran, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers

Becton Dickinson and Company

Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Cuba, Libya

Caterpillar Inc.

Iraq, Iran, Taliban, Cuba

Abbott Laboratories

Iran, Sudan, Cuba, Libya, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers

Archer Daniels Midland Company

Iran, Cuba, Libya, Sudan, Iraq

Hologic Inc


Philips Electronics

Iran, Libya, Sudan


Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Yugoslavia, Iraq

Medtronic Inc.

Iran, Sudan, Libya, Iraq

Stryker Corporation

Iran, Sudan, Libya


Iran, Sudan, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, Libya, Narcotics, Global Terrorism, Iraq

AirSep Cororation

Iran, Libya, Sudan

Coca-Cola Company

Iran, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, Iraq

Medrad Incorporated

Iran, Sudan

Eastman Kodak Company

Iran, Sudan

PepsiCo Inc.

Iran, Sudan, Libya

Carl Zeiss Meditec

Iran, Iraq

Draeger Medical Systems

Iran, Sudan

Bayer Corporation

Iran, Sudan, Kosovo, Cuba, Iraq


Iran, Sudan, Libya, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, Iraq

Genzyme Corporation

Iran, Libya, Cuba

St. Jude Medical Inc.

Iran, Iraq

The Boeing Company

Sudan, Multiple, Global Terrorism, Iran, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, Libya, Belarus, Cuba

Varian Medical Systems

Iran, Sudan

Haemonetics Corporation

Iran, Sudan, Cuba, Iraq

Ohmeda Medical

Libya, Sudan, Iran

Del Monte

Iran, Sudan

Hill-Rom Company

Iran, Iraq

Zoll Medical Corporation


American Red Cross

Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Multiple, Sudan NGO Registration, Terrorism List

Johnson & Johnson


Mallinckrodt Pharmaceutical Company


Valmont Industries Inc

Iraq, Iran

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

Iran, Libya, Sudan

FMC Technologies


Gambro BCT Inc.

Iran, Sudan

Genetics International

Sudan, Iraq

Masimo Corporation


3M Company

Iran, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, Sudan

Beckman Coulter

Sudan, Iraq

C.R. Bard Inc

Iran, Sudan, Cuba

Edwards Lifesciences LLC

Iran, Libya, Sudan


Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Narcotics, Angola, Taliban, Iran, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers

Nova Biomedical Corporation

Iran, Sudan

Royal Crown Cola Co.


ConAgra Foods

Cuba, Libya, Sudan, Iran

Fisher Controls International

Iraq, Libya

Lockheed Martin Corporation

Sudan, Multiple


Cuba, Iran, Iraq

DynCorp International LLC

Sudan, Iraq, Cuba, Iran

EG & G

Global Terrorism, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, Liberia, Terrorism

Ingersoll-Rand Company

Iraq, Cuba

Merit Medical Systems Inc.


Minrad Inc.

Iran, Sudan

Alcon Laboratories


CHS Inc.

Iran, Libya

Elekta Limited


General Mills


Grason-Stadler/Div of Viasys Healthcare


Lincoln Electric Company


Oracle Corporation


PAE Government Services Inc


Pall Corporation


Respironics Inc.


Starkey Laboratories Inc.


World Fuel Services Corporation

Iraq, Iran, Burma, Sudan

ABB Inc.


AGA Medical Corporation

Iran, Sudan

American Equipment Company


Aspect Medical Systems

Iran, Sudan NGO Registration



Datex Ohmeda Inc.

Iran, Iraq


Iraq, Taliban

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics Inc.




Smiths Medical MD Inc.


William Wrigley Jr. Company

Sudan, Iran

York International Coporation


Sources: Department of Defense, New York Times [/access]