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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Pentagon reviews German contract
By Stefan Armbruster
BBC News Online business reporter

Pentagon building
German product could protect US military
The Pentagon, the headquarters of the US military, is reviewing a contract with a US company selling a German product, because of the country's objections to the war on Iraq.

A spokesman for the German company Keimfarben, whose product has been used on the White House and at Arlington Cemetery, told BBC News Online they found the fuss "unusual".

"Now the war is over I'm sure it will calm down," said Peter Neri, Keimfarben's managing director.

"These attitudes are restricted to a few individual Americans and not the country as a whole."

On 5 February, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lumped Germany together with Cuba and Libya as countries that would not "do anything" to help fight the Iraq war.

White wash?

US congressman Steve LaTourette, a Republican who represents Ohio, wants the deal to go to a company based in his hometown.

"We expect to complete our review and brief the congressman by the end of this week," Department of Defense spokesman Brett Eaton told Reuters.

The 60-year old Pentagon building is currently undergoing a 20-year, $3bn (1.9bn) renovation, which has attracted extra attention after it was hit by a hijacked passenger jet on September 11.

The disputed contract, potentially worth $4.3m, involves a protective coating that would be used on the Pentagon's outer walls.

"The US has the right to secure products as best they can," said Mr Neri.

"We're quite relaxed about all this and that the contract will stay with our product."

Stirring up trouble

The coating uses base paint and tints from Germany which are mixed and distributed by the US-owned company Cohalan in the state of Delaware.

Mr LaTourette wants the contract to go to ChemMasters from his home town of Madison, Ohio.

Ohio's largest newspaper, the Plain Dealer, reported the Congressman questioning why a German product should be used when the country did not support the war and a local sealant was available.

He claims ChemMasters' product is cheaper, which the DoD reported cost about 1% less.

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