Turkey told it will receive waiver on US sanctions on Iran: Gov’t
ANKARA / WASHINGTON
Turkey has been told it will receive a waiver on the U.S. sanctions against exports of Iranian oil, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Nov. 5, as Washington re-introduced the sanctions.
Speaking to private broadcaster A Haber, Albayrak said Turkey would evaluate what steps it could take after the United States officially announced the countries that would be exempt from the sanctions.
Earlier on the day, the United States re-introduced sanctions against Iranian oil exports, giving some of its closest allies exemptions that will allow Tehran’s biggest customers, mostly in Asia, to still buy crude for now.
“Initial information has shown that Turkey was one of the eight countries that would be given exemptions in buying oil and gas [from Iran],” Albayrak said.
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan also said on Nov. 3 that Turkey has received initial indications that it will be among eight countries to be granted a waiver on U.S. sanctions against Iran, but is awaiting clarification on Nov. 5.
An industry source said last month that Turkey had already made efforts to cut its purchases ahead of the U.S. sanctions, but would prefer to keep up some level of Iranian oil imports.
No confirmation has been offered by the U.S. side by Nov. 5 afternoon.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration added 300 new designations including Iran’s oil, shipping, insurance and banking sectors, aiming to cripple Iran’s main export revenues from the petroleum industry.
Despite this, Iran will continue to sell some oil as Washington said on Nov. 2 it would temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian supplies.
It did not identify who had received the exemptions, which will last up to 180 days and have been granted on the basis that importers have already slashed purchases and will further reduce them in the future.
It was not clear yet what individual volumes or aggregate volume the waivers entail. During the previous wave of sanctions on Iran in 2012 exemptions were given to China, India, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and EU countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain for a total amount of over 1 million barrels per day.
South Korea said on Nov. 5 it had been granted a waiver to continue at least temporarily importing condensate from Iran and running financial transactions with the Middle Eastern country. Condensate - a super-light crude oil - is a critical feedstock for South Korea’s petrochemical industry.
South Korea, a U.S. ally and one of Asia’s biggest buyers of Iranian oil, asked Washington for “maximum flexibility” last week, after some of its construction firms cancelled energy-related contracts in Iran due to financing difficulties.
Japan said on Nov. 5 it was in close communication with the United States on the measures, although Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to provide details.
India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan confirmed on Nov. 3 that the country, Iran’s top oil client after China, had won a waiver from the U.S. sanctions after a “forceful campaign” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India hopes to continue to buy about 1.25 million tons of oil a month until the end of the fiscal year to March 31, unchanged from November’s level, a government official said.
China is also seeking waivers, although it remained unclear on Nov. 5 what volumes, if any, it would be allowed to purchase.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated its objections to sanctions, but would not directly say whether China had been granted an exemption.
Some European countries may also receive exemptions.
Iran’s biggest oil buyers in recent years have been China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
Iran ‘will ignore sanctions’
Iran said it would ignore the sanctions.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic republic “will proudly bypass sanctions” by the United States that took effect on Monday targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors.
“I announce that we will proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions because it’s against international regulations,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Nov. 5.
“We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power. I don’t think that in the history of America, someone has entered the White House who is so against law and international conventions,” he added.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Washington had made itself more isolated by pursuing the sanctions.
“US bullying is backfiring... The US — and not Iran — is isolated,” Zarif said in a tweet.