Secretary of State Pick Tillerson Expressed Interest in Iran Deals in 2016

Secretary of State Pick Tillerson Expressed Interest in Iran Deals in 2016
Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:05:03

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of State expressed interest in a 2016 interview as CEO of ExxonMobil about doing business with Iran if sanctions were lifted, a view that puts him at odds with Republicans weighing his confirmation.

Alalam - USA

Rex Tillerson is scheduled to testify Wednesday at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which includes members opposed to deals between US companies and Iran. Such business ties are possible following the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear deal negotiated by Iran, the Obama administration and five other world powers.

Last March, Tillerson told CNBC that his company would consider doing business in oil-rich Iran if the opportunity arose.

While US companies are still unable to conduct business there, a lot of European competitors can, Tillerson told the business cable channel. Investment opportunities with Iran opened up after some sanctions were lifted as part of the nuclear deal, which went into effect a year ago.

“I also learned a long time ago that sometimes being the first in is not necessarily best,” Tillerson said. “We'll wait and see if things open up for US companies. We would certainly take a look because it's a huge resource-owning country.”

Tillerson was a senior vice president at ExxonMobil from August 2001 until he became president and director in March 2004. He became chairman and chief executive on Jan. 1, 2006.

In a letter to USA TODAY on Tuesday, Suzanne McCarron, ExxonMobil’s vice president for public and government affairs, said: “The transactions in question complied fully with all laws and regulations and no federal agency took action following the company’s responses to the SEC’s routine inquiry more than a decade ago.”

“The company had limited business in the countries during the 2003-2005 period asked about by the SEC, which strictly complied with all applicable regulations,” McCarron said.

Tillerson's career at ExxonMobil involved finding, exploring and producing petroleum, and he was unlikely to have been involved in the joint venture before he became president of the company in 2004, Jeffers said.

"Prior to his time as president, he never would have been responsible for Infineum operations," Jeffers said.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News on Tuesday that there was a loophole in the legislation that existed that allowed doing business with Iran. But that was closed in 2012, usatoday reported.

"I don't think that any violations took place in that regard," Corker said. "But these are legitimate questions, and I'm sure he (Tillerson) is going to be very prepared to answer those."



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