Turkey’s gold sales to Iran still on track
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Iranian women window shopping in front of a jewelry shop in a bazaar in Tehran. The Islamic republic has reportedly bought more than $11 billion of gold from Turkey, which angers US officials. EPA photoAs U.S. officials refresh their stance on cutting Ankara’s “gold for gas game” with Tehran, yesterday’s official figures showed Turkey’s gold sales to the Islamic republic continued to hike in October, and Switzerland, a new player, emerged in gold trade.
This came amid talks between the Turkish and U.S. administrations on the issue.
However, gold once again did not go into Iran’s pockets directly, but reportedly via the United Arab Emirates for a third month in a row.
Turkey sold $1.5 billion worth of gold in October, nearly $1.5 billion of which went to the U.A.E.
The rest mainly was bought by Switzerland, but no links between the European state and Iran on the issue were confirmed.
This trade totaled about $3 billion of gold exports to the Gulf nation. Many sector professionals and sources close to the issue have said Turkish gold goes to Iran via the U.A.E. In the first eight months of the year Turkey exported $6.4 billion of gold directly to its oil and gas provider Iran.
Turkey’s overall gold exports totaled $14.34 billion in the first 10 months of the year, while imports of the commodity accounted for $7.7 billion, meaning the trade helps the country cut its trade gap. The country imported a mere $366 million worth gold in October.
The U.S. Senate is set to consider a broader set of economic sanctions on Iran’s energy, port, shipping and shipbuilding sectors, as lawmakers look for new ways to pressure Tehran to stop efforts to enrich uranium to levels that could be used in weapons, Reuters reported yesterday.
‘Message is clear’
“Our message is clear: the window is closing. The time for the waiting game is over,” said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who helped craft a new U.S. proposal to increase pressure on Iran.
Ankara is in talks with Washington over the new wave of sanctions on Iran, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said Nov. 29.
Earlier this month, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan confirmed that Iran was selling natural gas to Turkey for payment in Turkish Liras in Turkey that were later converted into gold before brought to their homeland.
“We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to put crippling pressure on the Iranian government and passing these new sanctions is absolutely critical to that effort,” Reuters quoted U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, as saying. The independent senator co-sponsored the new bill.
The package includes measures designed to stop the flow of gold from Turkey to Iran, repeated the head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Mark Dubowitz.
“After giving Turkey this flexibility, Congress will not be sympathetic to a continuation of any ‘gold for gas’ scheme,” said Dubowitz, who has pushed for stronger sanctions on Iran.
“We can’t on any investigations that may be ongoing,” a U.S. administration official said.
The sanctions would turn up pressure on Iran’s government, Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, who co-authored the package, said in a statement. Kirk and Menendez also championed new sanctions that curbed Iran’s oil exports last year.
TURKEY REDUCES OIL TRADE
Turkey’s oil imports from Iran fell by a sharp 30 percent in October from the month before on the eve of U.S. revision of countries to be exempted from an embargo on the Islamic Republic next month.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia replaced Iranian crude resources, yesterday’s trade data by the state’s statistics body, TÜİK, showed. Iraq and Russia sold 105,000 and 103,248 barrels of crude per day to Turkey in October respectively.Turkey had agreed to reduce crude purchases from Iran by 20 percent to benefit from a 6-month exemption from the U.S sanctions on the country, which started in June.
Asia’s top buyers of Iranian crude are likely to secure U.S. approval to continue imports from Iran without incurring sanctions after cutting volumes sharply in the second half of the year, according to government and trade sources, Reuters reported on Nov. 30.
Government officials in India and South Korea said they expect waivers from U.S. sanctions on Iran, secured in the middle of the year, to be rolled over for another six months. In China traders said the main state-run oil importers expect a further exemption.
Tough U.S. and EU sanctions have more than halved Iran’s oil exports, and most of what is left flows to Asia. Exports fell to 1.3 million bpd in October.