FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2014
Contact: Nathan Carleton, [email protected]
Phone: (212) 554-3296
UANI Calls on Austria's Voestalpine to End Business in Iran
Steel Conglomerate was Reportedly Part of Austrian Trade Delegation that Recently Visited Tehran
New York, NY - Today, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) continued its Austria Trade Delegation Campaign, by calling on Austrian steel conglomerate Voestalpine to cease its current business--and its exploration of new business--in Iran.
According to reports, Voestalpine was part of an Austrian trade delegation that went to Tehran in December following the signing of the interim nuclear deal by the P5+1 and Iran. The delegation reportedly met with Seyyed Mehdi Mir-Abutalebi, the deputy head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran.
Voestalpine and its subsidiaries including Böhler Edelstahl, Böhler PROFIL, Uddeholm, Associated Swedish Steels AB (ASSAB), Buderus Edelstahl, and Voestalpine Böhler Welding list distributors in Iran on their respective websites. These subsidiaries manufacture a variety of metal and industrial products including high-speed, high-grade, tool and switch steels.
Reentry into the Iranian market by Austrian firms such as Voestalpine would be ill-advised and premature. As President Barack Obama stated last month, businesses "exploring" the Iranian market "do so at their own peril right now, because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks." Voestalpine's continued or prospective business in Iran could also potentially violate EU and U.S. sanctions on the sale of finished metals such as steel to Iran, as well as sanctions on Iran's oil and gas sector.
Voestalpine maintains a significant U.S. presence, and is set for an April 2014 groundbreaking of a $740 million iron ore processing plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, touted as the company's "largest foreign investment to date."
In letter to Voestalpine Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Eder, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace wrote:
... There remain severe reputational, financial and legal risks associated with Iran business... Voestalpine's apparent interest in expanding its Iran business is both premature and ill-advised. As clearly indicated in numerous statements issued by U.S. and EU officials, the JPA in no way gives a green light for companies to enter or re-enter the Iranian market. Simply put, Iran is not "open for business."
As you may know, EU Council Regulation No 1263/2012 of 21 December 2012 prohibits the sale, supply, transfer or export of graphite or raw or semi-finished metals (such as aluminium and steel) to any Iranian person, entity or body, or for use in Iran. Additionally, the "Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012," included within The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, requires the President of the United States "to impose five or more of the sanctions... on persons that are determined to have knowingly engaged in... selling, supplying, or transferring, directly or indirectly, to or from Iran any precious material, finished metals such as aluminum and steel" ... Given these restrictions, it is unclear how Voestalpine can continue to legally conduct business with Iran.
UANI is also concerned that Voestalpine may be providing Iran goods and services, such as the foregoing that have applications in sensitive sectors including Iran's sanctioned oil and gas industry.
UANI is also cognizant of Voestalpine's significant U.S. presence. Voestalpine has a number of subsidiaries, offices, facilities, and manufacturing plants located across the U.S. [e.g. Voestalpine Nortrak, Bohler-Uddeholm, Roll Forming Corporation, Edro] Valued at $740 million and set for an April 2014 groundbreaking, Voestalpine Texas LLC's iron ore processing plant based outside Corpus Christi is touted as "Voestalpine's largest foreign investment to date."
Notwithstanding the terms of the agreement, there remain severe reputational, financial and legal risks associated with Iran business.
Click here to read UANI's full letter to Voestalpine.
Click here to send a message to Voestalpine.
Click here to learn more about UANI's Austria Trade Delegation Campaign.
Click here to learn more about UANI's France Trade Delegation Campaign.