US advocacy group calls on Sasol to terminate Iran polyethylene business

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is asking 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, the US-based advocacy group said on Monday.

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 US and is identified by the international community as an entity of concern for procurement of weapons of mass destruction and proliferation, the UANI group says.

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

Last month, UANI wrote to Sasol regarding its ongoing business in Iran. In a December 19 letter to Sasol executives, UANI chief executive Mark D. Wallace said the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) had 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 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 an alleged conflict of doing business in both Iran and in the US, UANI said it is asking 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 noted that it had recently received direct correspondence from Sasol.

In that correspondence, Sasol said 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."

Sasol would not commit to a definitive date to end Iran activities.

This is the most-recent letter sent from UANI to Sasol.

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