Iraq gets exemption from sanctions on Iran's energy
Iraq will continue to have access to the energy it needs from Iran to generate and supply electricity, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran at the US State Department, said.
Iraq is still importing natural gas and electricity from neighboring Iran and has set up a bank account to process payments in Iraqi dinars, according to two Iraqi government officials, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to media, Bloomberg reported.
The waiver marks a further retreat by the Trump administration after it exempted eight countries - but not Iraq - from its unilateral trade sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
It came after the United States issued formal waivers for Iran’s Chabahar on the Sea of Oman which is being developed jointly by India to crack open a trade and transport route to landlocked Afghanistan.
“After extensive consideration, the secretary has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) with respect to the development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the port for Afghanistan’s use, as well as Afghanistan’s continued imports of Iranian petroleum products,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Iraq has extensive trade ties with Iran and depends on Iranian natural gas imports for electricity generation. Basra in southern Iraq was hit by violent protests which spread to other cities this summer, partly because of a halt of Iranian electricity exports.
Iran is currently Iraq's top trade partner, with annual turnover standing at about $12 billion, according to Iraqi officials.
Foodstuff, livestock, construction material and plastic products constitute the bulk of Iran’s exports to Iraq where Iranian vehicles and food items are a ubiquitous sight.
The two neighbors are currently working on the supply of Iranian gas to Sadr, Baghdad and al-Mansuriya power plants through a 270-kilometer pipeline and to Basra near the Iranian border via a separate pipeline.
Iraq and Iran have also been exchanging oil through a swap deal under which crude from the Kirkuk field in northern Iraq is shipped by truck to Iran which uses it in its refineries and delivers the same amount of oil to Iraq’s southern ports.
The administration of US President Donald Trump announced Monday the re-imposition of sanctions ever against Iran's oil exports, shipping and banking. The bans had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the world stands against the US administration and no country except for some few states in the Middle East would abide by Washington.
Trump administration in addition to violating international laws, is actually pressuring other countries, encouraging them to violate international laws, Zarif said in an interview with USA TODAY.
Iran is willing to hold talks with the US provided that there is a change in the US administration’s approach toward Iran, Zarif said.
The unilateral measures that will hit oil exports, shipping and banks, are the most concrete result yet of US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision in May to abandon the multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.
US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the nuclear agreement in May and reintroduced the first round of sanctions on Iran in August. 101/202