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May 13, 2014 9:40 am

Advocacy Group Calls for Full Disclosure Amid Concern Over Sanctions-Busting at Iran Oil Show

avatar by Joshua Levitt


Iran's South Pars oil and gas field is owned by National Iranian Oil Co. Photo: NIOC.

Iran's South Pars oil and gas field is owned by National Iranian Oil Co. Photo: NIOC.

Advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran has called on attendees of Iran’s 19th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition, held last week in Tehran, to fully disclose the nature and extent of their business activities in the Islamic Republic, which is still the object of international sanctions.

The group, whose mission is to warn the world about Iran’s intentions and prevent the Islamic Republic from achieving nuclear weapons capability, named European energy companies that attended the event, and called out one global French firm, Nexans, that also supplies the U.S. government.

In a statement, UANI said, “The presence of European and Asian companies at the oil show directly contravenes the efforts of the international community to maintain economic pressure on the Iranian regime while also demonstrating disregard for President Obama’s pledge to ‘come down … like a ton of bricks’ on foreign firms expanding their Iran business.”

Iran’s oil and gas sector is the most heavily sanctioned sector of the Iranian economy and the sanctions against it remain in place for the duration of the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, reached between Tehran and Washington, with the support of world powers, it noted.

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UANI cited Nematollahi Akbar, a spokesman for Iran’s Oil Ministry, as saying that 600 foreign companies registered for the oil show, representing a 300% increase from the year before.UANI said, “These foreign firms do not appear to be taking seriously the severe reputational, financial and legal risks associated with Iran business.”

In the statement, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, UANI’s CEO, said he wrote to Frédéric Vincent, Chairman and CEO of French cable manufacturer Nexans,which openly announced its attendance at the event.Wallace wrote: “The objective of the Iran Oil Show is to facilitate action that on its face appears to constitute illicit, if not potentially sanctionable activity, including activities related to the ‘exchange of commodities, services and technical data,’ ‘promoting Iran’s products,’ and ‘boosting the status of Iran’s Oil Show in the region and the world.'”

“Such activities work in direct contravention to efforts by the international community to isolate the Iranian energy sector in response to the regime’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” Wallace said in the letter. “UANI is also concerned that Nexans appears to maintain an ongoing relationship with Iran via the Tehran-based companies Persian Meraat Co. and Noble Inc.”

Wallace demanded that Vincent “clarify the current status” of Nexans’ business activities in Iran and its intentions in the Islamic Republic. He asked for a list of its activities and meetings from the event, “including the names of all individuals and entities that Nexans and its representatives met with during the show.”

Wallace said, “Please specifically confirm that Nexans did not meet with representatives of any sanctioned entity or Specially Designated National and also describe what steps Nexans took to ensure that its representatives did not interact with such individuals or representatives,” referring to what is still prohibited by the international sanctions against the country.

Wallace also questioned how Nexans meant to continue as “a leading contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense,” with its push into Iran.

“Certainly, members of the U.S. Congress and the American public at-large will not look kindly on any business that attempts to conduct business with Iran while also enriching itself via U.S. markets and taxpayers dollars,” Wallace wrote.

According to Iran’s Oil Ministry, regional representatives from French energy giant Total and the German industrial conglomerate Siemens exhibited at the oil show. UANI added that Italian firms Bruno PrezessiFCE GroupOMALSitindustrie,  VALVOmetalTema Sistemi, and VALVITALIA announced plans to attend, as did German companies LEONILEWARembe, and STEULER KCH.

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