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ECONOMICS > US senator aide cannot believe Turkey's Iran stand

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The United States expects countries that buy oil from Iran to further reduce their purchases if they want to avoid U.S. sanctions, a State Department source said on Dec. 5.

"The law requires additional cuts so we expect buyers to make additional cuts," a source at the State Department said about the U.S.

sanctions law signed a year ago by President Barack Obama.

A Senate aide said the law's requirements of deeper reductions every six months is clear.

"While I find it very hard to believe the U.S. State Department didn't remind our Turkish partners that U.S. law requires them to continue significantly reducing toward a permanent end to Iranian imports, U.S.

law stands whether they received a warning or not," said the aide, who did not want to be identified given the sensitivity of U.S. talks with oil consumer countries.

Under that law, banks in countries that buy oil from Iran can be cut off from the U.S. financial system unless the purchases are reduced.

China, India, South Korea, Turkey and other countries got six-month "exceptions" to the sanctions in June for reducing oil shipments from Iran. The law says the cuts have to be "significant" but does not dictate how deep they must be.

The sanctions are designed to make it harder for Iran to fund its nuclear program, which Washington suspects is enriching uranium to levels that could be used in weapons, a charge Iran denies.

The architects of the sanctions legislation, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Mark Kirk, have urged the White House to require countries to reduce purchases by about 18 percent before getting the next round of waivers.

The 18 percent level surfaced in March when the State Department exempted Japan from sanctions, estimating that it had cut purchases by

15 to 22 percent.

Carlos Pascual, the State Department's top energy diplomat, and other U.S. officials have been having conversations with Iran's top oil buyers as well as oil producers to see how the buyers can tap alternative sources of oil.

The State Department is expected to decide by Dec. 8 whether it will extend the six-month exceptions to the sanctions given to India, South Korea and other buyers of Iranian crude. The deadline for the decision for China and Singapore comes later in the month.

A State Department fact sheet about the sanctions law says the exceptions "can be renewed if the country continues to significantly reduce its volume of crude oil purchases from Iran in each subsequent 180-day period," implying cuts should be deepened every six months.

While the department expects countries to keep reducing purchases, considerations such as seasonal demand and conditions in the market enter into the equation. Some countries require more fuel in winter months, so the department considers reductions over year-before levels, rather than comparing them with cuts made in the last round.

Discussions the United States has with oil consuming countries focus on long term supply, the State Department source said. The department asks countries how they will cut purchases, rather demanding that they cut by a certain percentage.

Turkey's oil minister said on Dec. 5 his country has not received any new request from the United States to reduce its level of crude purchases from Iran.

But the purchases seem to be falling. Turkish trade data in November showed Turkey's crude imports from Iran fell by more than 30 percent in October as Ankara turned to Iraq and Saudi Arabia for supply.

Turkey got the June exception after it cut purchases by 20 percent.

December/06/2012

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READER COMMENTS

Notice on comments

Roger Harding

12/7/2012 6:21:52 PM

US OBSERVER, Don't forget worthless UN (according to you) recognized the Zionist project in Palestine in 1948. By the way, shall we first implement sanctions against Israel fully? Before Iran. Iran does not have any Nukes. Israel does. So, first things first. Tackling Iran will have credibility after that. Not before. Regards.

US Observer

12/7/2012 3:42:14 PM

Because the UN is a worthless organization Brit. And once again, everyone says they don't want war but will not implement sanctions fully. If we follow Europe’s lead and sit on our elitist touches, Iran gets the Nuke and uses their terrorist proxies to unleash it. Afterwards we sit back and pontificate what went wrong. Brilliant idea, meanwhile you get what you really want and witness millions of Jews killed again. And how long before that weapon is threated against Turkey?

Brit in Turkey

12/7/2012 10:16:18 AM

mara mcglothin. I did not suggest that the US should not be able to look after its own interests, but it is the "bully-boy" manner in which it does this that irks. Remember the Brits get enough of that from the EU. The US is cosily 6,000 miles from the middle east and not right next door like Turkey. Turkey must do its best to balance friendship, trade and strength with its neighbours. The US knows that the UN is the correct forum for the sanction problem but cannot be bothered with it.

ilker avni

12/7/2012 1:45:09 AM

@Roger Harding Iran says it cant wait to wipe out Israel,plse go to Presstv webb site and see for yourself,nearly everyday they say they gona wipe out Israel.Their foreign policy is based on confrontation.

DutchTurk JANICAR

12/6/2012 10:34:19 PM

I also cannot believe that a so called "ally" A wouldn't sell a loyal ally B it's drones with striking power after this loyal ally B fought on a several occasions for "ally" A. To the US senator i would like to say, this an Iranian Israeli conflict an none of our business. Our "ally" US is far beyond the range of Iran, but Israel isn't and that is their problem. Turkey should continue with the trade for the interest of Turkey and Turkish people. Not for the interest of Israeli lobby and Israel.

mara mcglothin

12/6/2012 8:56:36 PM

BRIT IN TURKEY Why is it that the USA is not allowed to look out after their own interests? It has nothing to do with "liking us" but is directly related to the threat to the World that Iran has become. ROGER Yeah, Israel has been threatened with annialation, so yeah they are part of it, BUT not all of it. Spot on! THESSALONIAN It isn't a threat it is a promise.

ilker avni

12/6/2012 7:25:04 PM

Turkeys is dammed if they abide with USA sanctions and dasmmed if they dont abide with the USA.Turkeys helps out Iran and in return Iran threatens Turkey with missiles,arms the PKK,sends its spies with fake Turkish passports to foreign countries to carry out sabotages so Turkey gets the blame.Iran is a major threat to all Islamic nations,it wants the Shiites to have nuclear weapons just like Sunnie Pakistan.Irans enriching has been rached up why? if not to build nuclear weapons.

Brit in Turkey

12/6/2012 5:18:45 PM

If the US wants the world to apply more sanctions to Iran (or any other country) there is a proper forum for so doing. It is called the UN. This supposed attitude of the US smacks at "I won't let you play with my toys if you don't say you like me."

Roger Harding

12/6/2012 4:55:48 PM

THESSALONIAN, Your theory will work. If the world was a Puppet Show. And Netanyahu was the Puppet Master. But, it ain't so. Therefore, better look forward to more convincing means of negotiations. Please note. Iran is not impoverished and defenceless Palestine. Consider yourself lucky, If you manage to escape with just a bloody nose. After such an undsirable situation. Anyway. All the best. To both sides that is.

Thessalonian

12/6/2012 4:09:01 PM

@Roger Harding. Israel's nukes pose no threat to any nation. This includes Iran as well as Turkey. Furthermore, the sunctions constitute a peaceful means of forcing the Iranians to the negotiation table and to be successful require co-operation from all those who purchase Iranian oil. Failling this, opens the door to the application of a rather undesirable and by the same token more convincing means of negotiation, putting it mildly that is... Regards
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