As the White House, State Department and Congress continue to turn up the heat on Conoco’s $1 billion investment in Iran, Edgar Bronfman appears poised to pull the rug out from under the deal.
Bronfman, a leading Jewish philanthropist whose family holds a controlling interest in the Seagram’s company, sits on the DuPont board of directors. Seagram’s owns 24.3 percent of DuPont, which in turn owns Conoco Inc, a major Houston-based oil company.
Conoco announced that it had concluded its deal with Iran last week.
Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress, went to Capitol Hill last week to lobby against the deal, Capitol Hill staffers said.
According to the staffers, Bronfman told senior House and Senate leaders that he is “unequivocally opposed” to the deal with a “rogue, terrorist state.”
Bronfman reportedly was trying to persuade members of Congress to pass legislation banning any other American companies from stepping in with Iran if he were successful in persuading Conoco to pull out of the deal.
Several Jewish organizations have condemned the deal as well. Bronfman met with Senate Majority Bob Dole (R-Kan.); Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.); Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee; and Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), the House minority leader.
A World Jewish Congress spokesman said, “The World Jewish Congress and Edgar Bronfman forcefully oppose the deal between Iran and Conoco.”
“It is our opinion that it will not go through,” he said.
The deal has never been discussed or voted upon by the DuPont board, Bronfman reportedly told the members of Congress.
Bronfman is traveling out of the country and was unavailable for comment.
Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N>Y.) has introduced a bill that would block American companies from doing business with Iran, a bill that is being supported by Jewish groups. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced the same bill in the House of Representatives.
Currently, American firms can export oil from Iran as long as it does not enter the United States. President Clinton is also considering blocking trade with Iran through an executive order.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.