Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ties Deepen Between Turkey and Iran

From John C.K. Daly at the Eurasia Daily Monitor:
The United States has maintained various sanctions against Iran since 1979, implemented in aftermath of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. As relations worsen between the U.S. and Iran, Washington is seeking to have the United Nations Security Council impose additional sanctions on Iran for its nuclear enrichment activities, which Tehran insists are legal, entirely peaceful, and intended for generating electricity.

Among the sanctions that most concern foreign energy companies and nations is the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), renewed in 2001, which provides for punitive measures against entities that invest more than $20 million annually in the Iranian oil and gas sectors.

Many countries are deeply ambivalent toward the U.S. policy, none more so than Turkey, which imports 90 percent of its energy needs. Now Ankara is pushing the limits by increasing its natural gas purchases from Iran and considering possible involvement in developing the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves. On July 29 Iranian Petroleum Minister Qolam Hosein Nozari said in Tehran that Turkey and Iran were negotiating over Turkey being a transit corridor for Iranian natural gas exports to Europe and that Iran would provide increased amounts of natural gas to Turkey during the winter (Anadolu Ajansi, June 30). According to Nozari, the pipeline, which would run from Iran’s South Pars natural gas and oil fields to the border province of Bazargan, was discussed during the OPEC summit held on June 22 in Jeddah (Tehran Times, June 29). Even worse for administration officials seeking to sustain and intensify the U.S. sanctions regime, Nozari said, “We have also spoken about the participation of Turkey in the development of phases 14 and 23 of the South Pars field” (Hurriyet, June 30).

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