New Dutch NGO demands Shell cease its Iran business

"The Iran Committee finds it incomprehensible that Shell refuses to account for it role in perpetuating Iran's criminal regime."

shell petroleum 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
shell petroleum 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The recently formed Dutch Iran Committee, a nonpartisan NGO seeking to stop Teheran's nuclear weapons program, peppered Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer with uncomfortable questions about the petroleum company's human rights record in Iran and its possible violations of US Iran sanctions legislation on Tuesday. The committee representatives questioned van der Vee at the companies annual stockholder meeting in The Hague. "The Iran Committee finds it incomprehensible that Shell refuses to account for it role in perpetuating Iran's criminal regime. Furthermore, Shell is disregarding the interests of its shareholders by its shortsighted refusal to acknowledge the risks of investing in Iran, in view of America's existing sanction policy and further sanctions to come," Frank van Dalen, deputy chairman of the Iran Committee and a former chairman of the Dutch Federation of Homosexuals, said in a statement. The Dutch Iran Committee cited "the code of conduct of Shell" and the company's "support for fundamental human rights" at the stockholder meeting. According to Shell's annual report, a violation of the code of conduct "could adversely impact our license to operate, our brand, our ability to secure new resources and our financial performance." Iran "leads all countries of the world in executing juvenile offenders," Human Rights Watch said early this month. The Dutch Iran Committee has drawn attention in the Netherlands to the Islamic republic's execution of gays and adolescents and its repression of women and religious and ethnic minorities. "How does your extensive operations in Iran fit in with the Shell Business Principles and Code, which requires compliance with applicable laws and support for fundamental human rights?" the Dutch Iran Committee asked the top-level management of Shell. Van Dalen from the committee requested that former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok "take up his role as chairman of Shell's corporate and social responsibility committee and write a paper describing Shell's overall investment policies in Iran from an ethical and social point of view." Wim Kok rejected the committee's proposal. The Dutch Iran Committee cited a late April Iranian Mehr press agency report at the stockholder meeting, that said Shell planned to increase its share in the development of the South Pars gas field from 25 percent to 30%. That would spell a total Shell investment of $10 billion. Dr. Ronny Naftaniel from the Dutch Iran Committee told The Jerusalem Post that CEO van der Veer had dodged the committee's questions regarding Shell's investment plans in Iran and whether its new investments in Iran violated the US Iran Sanctions Act, which bars annual investments of more than $20 million in the Islamic republic.