Turkey to seek waiver from US on Iranian oil

Turkey to seek waiver from US on Iranian oil

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey to seek waiver from US on Iranian oil

Ankara is considering seeking a waiver from Washington to exempt Tüpraş from new United States sanctions on Iran. DHA photo

Turkey is considering whether to seek a waiver from Washington to exempt Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (Tüpraş), Turkey’s biggest crude oil importer, from new United States sanctions on institutions that deal with Iran’s central bank.

An Energy Ministry official was to visit the U.S. Embassy late in the afternoon yesterday when Daily News went to press to inquire about the details of the sanctions, Daily News has learned. Ankara has been evaluating the content of the new U.S. law and has not decided yet to seek waiver from the U.S., diplomatic sources said.

“Tüpraş purchases a great amount of oil from Iran. As of today, trade with Iran continues. This commercial relation will continue until a new development takes place,” Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters yesterday.

Yıldız said Iran was one of the countries from which Turkey imported crude oil and they had not yet received any information about widening the scope of international sanctions against Iran. 
Turkey gets about 30 percent of its oil from its neighbor. Iran announced Dec. 24 that it had extended its crude export contract with Turkey for 2012.

European Union governments have reached a preliminary agreement to ban imports of Iranian crude to the EU but have yet to decide when such an embargo would be put in place, EU diplomats said yesterday. “A lot of progress has been made,” one EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The principle of an oil embargo is agreed. It is not being debated anymore.” 

The U.S. has recently adopted tough measures targeting financial institutions that deal with Iran’s central bank. The law, signed by President Barack Obama on Saturday, allows the U.S. to exempt institutions in a country that has significantly reduced its dealings with Iran. The U.S. president may also grant waivers deemed to be in his country’s national interest or otherwise necessary for energy market stability.

Asked if any country asked a waiver to be exempted from sanctions so far, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters they were not at that stage.

“The stage that we are at now is consulting with allies and partners around the world about the implications of this legislation and working with our allies and partners together to tighten sanctions that already exist on Iran and to encourage countries around the world to decrease their dependence on Iranian oil,” she said Jan. 3.

Turkey argues only U.N. sanctions bind it and insists it is not obliged to follow non-U.N. sanctions. Turkey opposed the last round of measures in 2010.

Turkish officials discussed alternative ways of oil supply in the last meeting of the National Security Council in case Iran blocks oil transfer through the Strait of Hormuz, Daily News has learned.
A day after Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniya paid a visit to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone met with Ömer Çelik, deputy chairman of AKP. The U.S. Embassy officials said it was a routine visit. Speaking after the meeting, the ambassador said they were sorry for what happened in Uludere. “We are at the same point where the Turkish government stands,” he said, and the fight against terror would proceed.

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