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Minnesota Steel Plant Back On Track

Indian firm behind the $1.6 billion plant, also in talks to open a refinery in Iran, assures Gov. Tim Pawlenty it won't do prohibited business in Iran.

ST. PAUL (AP) — A $1.6 billion steel plant planned for northern Minnesota got back on track Wednesday after Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he'd been assured that the Indian firm behind the project wouldn't simultaneously do prohibited business in Iran.
The Essar Global Ltd. deal hit a bump when reports surfaced that it was in negotiations to build a multibillion-dollar gas refinery in Iran. That raised questions of whether it would run afoul of the Iran Sanctions Act, a U.S. law that aims to punish foreign companies that invest more than $20 million in one year in Iran's energy sector.
''They have clarified their intentions in a way that satisfies my concerns regarding what would otherwise be a problematic investment in Iran,'' Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty had written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday to help determine if Essar was violating the seldom-invoked sanctions law.
The GOP governor released a letter from Essar dated Wednesday that acknowledged it has ''considered business development initiatives in Iran by way of interest in a refinery and exploration blocks.''
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