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Iceland Could Face US Sanctions Over Whale Hunt - 2003-08-18

The Bush administration says Iceland could face U.S. economic sanctions because of its so-called "scientific" whale hunt, which yielded its first reported kill of a Minke whale Monday.

The United States had appealed to Iceland in numerous venues in recent months not to go ahead with the limited whale hunt, its first in 14 years. And at a news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said U.S. officials are "extremely disappointed" that the program, ostensibly for research purposes, has none-the-less gone forward.

"Although the program is technically legal under the Whaling Convention, we've said many times that lethal research on whales is not necessary and the needed scientific data can be obtained by well-established, non-lethal means," he said.

Mr. Boucher said the taking of whales by Iceland will likely trigger a Commerce Department review of possible trade sanctions under a provision of a 1967 U.S. fisheries law, which provides for penalties against countries engaged in the killing of protected species of marine life.