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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Erdogan: Turkey will not abide by US sanctions

Turkey is among eight countries granted exemptions from sanctions, allowing them to continue buying Iranian oil

Iranians shop in a bazaar in Tehran EPA
Iranians shop in a bazaar in Tehran EPA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that he will not abide by US sanctions on Iran, claiming they only served to create imbalance in the world.

His comments come a day after Washington reimposed sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transport sectors and threatened more action to stop what it called Tehran's "outlaw" policies. Iran has called the steps economic warfare and vowed to defy them.

Turkey is among eight countries granted exemptions from sanctions, allowing them to temporarily continue buying Iranian oil.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister criticised the reimposition of sanctions, saying it was dangerous to isolate Iran and unfair to punish its people, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

"We do not believe any result can be reached with sanctions. I think meaningful dialogue and talks are more useful than sanctions," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Japan.

Turkey depends heavily on imports to meet its energy needs and neighbouring Iran has been one of its main sources of oil because of its proximity, crude quality and favourable price differentials, traders say.

Mr Cavusoglu also said it was not that easy for countries including Turkey and Japan to diversify energy resources to comply with the sanctions.

"Not only neighbouring countries but many countries from many regions of the world are being impacted by these unilateral sanctions."

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The US sanctions are part of a wider effort by President Donald Trump to curb Tehran’s missile and nuclear programmes and diminish the Islamic Republic’s influence in the Middle East, notably its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

Mr Trump’s moves target Iran’s main source of revenue - its oil exports - as well as its financial sector, essentially making 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries off-limits to foreign banks on pain of losing access to the US financial system.

Despite the reimposition of sanctions, Iran's vice president struck a defiant tone on vital oil exports saying they have been able to sell as much as it needs despite US pressure.

"The Americans constantly said they would reduce the sale of Iran’s oil to zero but I have to say that so far, we have been able to sell our required amounts of oil," the Tasnim news agency quoted Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri as saying.

"The Americans, with the help of propaganda, don't see the realities."

Mr Jahangiri said he had spoken to a handful of managers from companies on the US sanctions list and that some had already formulated plans on how to deal with the measures.

He also said officials should be open with the Iranian public about the difficulties that may lie ahead, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

"It is our duty to keep some of the worries to ourselves,” IRNA quoted Mr Jahangiri as saying. "But there shouldn’t be an issue that is hidden from the people. This is the people’s right."

A number of countries have been given exemptions from US sanctions to continue importing oil and gas on the condition that they would reduce their dependency over time.

Washington has pledged to eventually halt all purchases of crude oil from Iran globally but, for now, it said that China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey as well as Iraq, can continue imports without penalty. Crude exports contribute one-third of Iran's government revenues.

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 Monday.

“Iraq has been granted an exemption” to the energy sanctions the US has reimposed on Iran, Hook said, without providing details.