Thursday, January 3, 2013

UANI Calls on Sasol to Declare End to Its Iran Business


January 3, 2013
Contact: Nathan Carleton, 
Phone: (212) 554-3296

UANI Calls on Sasol to Declare End to Its Iran Business
South African Multinational Energy Company Pledged to Exit Iran 14 Months Ago, But Remains Active

New York, NY - Today, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on South African energy giant Sasol to immediately declare an end to its business in Iran and take the steps necessary to complete such an exit.

Sasol maintains an active presence in Iran through the Arya Sasol Polymer Company (ASPC), which operates two polyethylene plants in Iran. The company is a $900 million joint venture between Sasol and Iran's state-owned National Petrochemical Company (NPC). The NPC is sanctioned by the U.S. and is identified by the international community as an entity of concern for procurement of weapons of mass destruction and proliferation.

Sasol announced in October 2011 that it would divest from Iran, but has not yet followed through on that pledge.

Last month, UANI wrote to Sasol regarding its ongoing business in Iran. In a December 19 letter to Sasol executives, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, noted that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in December identified Sasol on a list of "Foreign Firms Engaged in Commercial Activity in Iran's Energy Sector." UANI also expressed concern that the Iranian regime media outlet Fars News had quoted Eric Roper, ASPC's Managing Director, as saying: "Sasol Company is satisfied with investment in Iran and doesn't intend to leave the country at all."

UANI also noted that Sasol, at the same time, "has aggressively sought to expand its business operations in the United States," including building a multi-billion dollar plant in Westlake, Louisiana. Given the clear conflict of doing business in both Iran and in the U.S., UANI called on Sasol "to immediately clarify the full extent and nature of its Iran business dealings, as well as to provide a definitive date as to when such business dealings will end."

UANI then received direct correspondence from Sasol. In that correspondence, Sasol stated that its CEO, David Constable, "is not involved in any matter regarding Sasol's activities in Iran," and that while Sasol "has also taken active steps to reduce and eventually cease all of its business with Iran[,] ... Divesting of Sasol's interest in ASPC has unfortunately proved to be more complicated than originally anticipated." Said Sasol: "We are unable to commit to a fixed date for our activities to cease ..."

UANI finds Sasol's failure to commit to ending its activities in Iran unacceptable, and is calling for Sasol to immediately declare an end to its Iran business, and take the necessary steps to achieve this.

In a letter sent today to Sasol, Ambassador Wallace wrote:

UANI has taken note of the statements contained in Sasol's letter concerning the challenges and complications associated with its Iran business. Ultimately however, Sasol's statement that it is "unable to commit to a fixed date for our activities to cease, as this will compromise our commercial negotiations..." is unacceptable.

           As you know, fourteen months have already passed since Sasol's intention to divest its Iran business first became public. Since the time of that public announcement, Sasol has failed to take the necessary action to complete such divestment, a fact which is reflected in the December 2012 Government Accountability Office ("GAO") Report, "Firms Reported to Have Sold Iran Refined Petroleum Products or Engaged in Commercial Activities in Iran's Energy Sector." In light of this fact, and the ongoing threat to international peace and security presented by the Iranian regime's illicit nuclear program and sponsorship of terrorism, Sasol's expectation that the American public wait indefinitely and potentially for years for Sasol to "extract the maximum realistic value" for its investment in the Arya Sasol Polymer Company is untenable. ...

It has also become clear that Sasol's ongoing presence in Iran is being exploited by the Iranian regime for propaganda purposes ... [A] recent report from Fars News includes a statement from the head of Iran's National Petrochemical Company, Abdolhossein Bayat, that "statements [of Sasol's divestment] are only rumors and I categorically deny withdrawal of the African company from Iran." Clearly, the regime is using Sasol, a multinational energy company, as a touchstone for its rhetoric that international efforts to isolate Iran over its illicit nuclear program are failing... Accordingly, UANI suggests that Sasol immediately issue a public rejection to the regime's false reports in order to clarify the nature of its Iran business activities.

            UANI also understands from Sasol's letter that Sasol could "incur significant losses as a result of the sale" of Arya Sasol Polymer Company. Please be advised that UANI does not seek to harm legitimate business. However, there are limits to the public's empathy for companies like Sasol that enter into business with the Iranian regime. Investments in violent, terror-sponsoring states subject to punitive multilateral sanctions and international censure carry significant financial risk. Any financial loss incurred by Sasol as a result of its divestment from Iran is a direct consequence of assuming such risks. ...

            Finally, Sasol is understandably "excited by the prospect of making significant investments in the energy and chemical industries in the United States." Unfortunately, Sasol's unwillingness to cease its Iran business is unacceptable to the vast majority of Americans and directly counters the international effort of private and public entities to economically isolate the Iranian regime. ...

UANI has requested a reply from Sasol by January 11, 2013.

Click here to read the full text of UANI's January 3 letter to Sasol.
Click here to view UANI's December 19 letter to Sasol.
Click here to send a message to Sasol.


United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran should concern every American and be unacceptable to the community of nations. Since 1979 the Iranian regime, most recently under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's leadership, has demonstrated increasingly threatening behavior and rhetoric toward the US and the West. Iran continues to defy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations in their attempts to monitor its nuclear activities. A number of Arab states have warned that Iran's development of nuclear weapons poses a threat to Middle East stability and could provoke a regional nuclear arms race. In short, the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran is a danger to world peace.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

The Objectives of United Against a Nuclear Iran
  1. Inform the public about the nature of the Iranian regime, including its desire and intent to possess nuclear weapons, as well as Iran's role as a state sponsor of global terrorism, and a major violator of human rights at home and abroad;
  2. Heighten awareness nationally and internationally about the danger that a nuclear armed Iran poses to the region and the world;
  3. Mobilize public support, utilize media outreach, and persuade our elected leaders to voice a robust and united American opposition to a nuclear Iran;
  4. Lay the groundwork for effective US policies in coordination with European and other allies;
  5. Persuade the regime in Tehran to desist from its quest for nuclear weapons, while striving not to punish the Iranian people, and;
  6. Promote efforts that focus on vigorous national and international, social, economic, political and diplomatic measures.
UANI is led by an advisory board of outstanding national figures representing all sectors of our country.

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