Michelin's Iran overtures irk U.S. Reps

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By Miles Moore, Senior Washington reporter

WASHINGTON (Feb. 28,2014) — Michelin North America should not be allowed to hold U.S. defense contracts if parent Group Michelin signs supply agreements with Iran, three Republican congressmen said in a Feb. 18 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Representatives from a number of French corporations, including Michelin, traveled to Iran recently seeking new business in the event of an anti-nuclear proliferation treaty between Iran and the West, said Reps. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Joe Heck of Nevada and Trent Franks of Arizona.

Michelin's presence was particularly troubling, the congressmen said, because Michelin has obtained more than $2.4 billion in defense contracts since 2007 to supply tires for U.S. Army trucks and U.S. Air Force jets.

They said they agreed with President Obama when he said he would come down "like a ton of bricks" on any company that explored government contracts with Iran before any nuclear deal was signed.

"We urge you to direct the Department (of Defense) to make clear to Michelin that any business with the Islamic Republic of Iran would make further contracts with the Department of Defense impossible," the congressmen wrote.

"We also ask that you provide us with analysis of what contractual remedies exist to terminate existing contracts between the Department and Michelin in the event it enters into such a contract," they said.

They also asked Mr. Hagel to provide an estimate of the termination liability the Defense Department would incur if Congress denied appropriation to any ongoing contracts with Michelin.

A Michelin spokesman declined comment on the letter.

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