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Continued support for Minnesota steel plant

The Indian company that plans to build a steel plant in northeastern Minnesota has agreed to comply with U.S. and international laws, said Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday.

Essar America’s Chief Executive Madhu Vuppuluri sent Pawlenty a letter assuring the governor that “ no investment or firm commitment will be made in Iran, unless and until permitted to do so under the applicable U.S. or international laws,? according to the Pioneer Press. The letter also said that Essar “considers its investments in the state of Minnesota of strategic importance both to Essar and to the state and people of Minnesota.?

Pawlenty now will offer state assistance for the plant after considering withdrawing support after suspicions of Essar dealings with Iran, including a negotiation “to build an $8 billion to $10 billion oil refinery in Iran,? according to the Pioneer Press. Such dealings would violate the Iran Country Sanctions Act, which “imposes sanctions on foreign companies that invest more than $20 million a year in Iran’s energy sector,? according to the Star Tribune.

Pawlenty sent Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice a letter on Monday to ask the U.S. State Department if Essar Global could potentially violate the act.

The proposed steel plant will cost $1.6 billion, be built in Itasca County and produce 2.5 million tons of steel per year, reports Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press. It would also provide 700 jobs to a region of Minnesota that has lost over 10,000 mining jobs since 1979. Itasca County is asking the Minnesota Legislature for over $60 million for roads, railroads, and various utility lines for the plant.