Turkey does not consider itself bound by the hardball campaign of the US to stop Iran exporting oil from November, according to comments from Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci made on June 27.
The Turks would work to ensure that their “brother country” was not hurt by the US move, he added.
On June 26, the US State Department said all countries must stop imports of Iranian oil from November or face secondary sanctions. No waivers on such imports would be granted, it added. As a big guzzler of imported oil, Turkey might expect to negotiate a good discount on Iranian crude in return for showing solidarity with its neighbour. On the other hand, it could use its position on receiving oil exports from Iran as a bargaining chip in its ongoing row with Washington over American moves to deny the Turks deliveries of F-35 jet fighter planes unless they scrap their plan to acquire Russian S-400 advanced missile defence systems.
Iran will now look to China and India, by far the biggest importers of the oil that is its economic lifeblood, for a similar stance to that outlined by Zeybekci. However, US diplomats are touring the world twisting the arms of all countries to abide by its policy of strangling the Iranian economy to force Iran to negotiate a new understanding that would limit its role in conflict zones of the Middle East.
Zeybekci, who spoke after discussing trade with the European Free Trade Association at a conference in Ankara, said Turkey would work to ensure Iran was not wronged.
“The decisions that the United States makes are not binding on us. We would be bound by any decisions taken by the United Nations,” Reuters reported Zeybekci as saying during the conference.
He added: “We will try to pay attention so that Iran, which is a friend and brother country, doesn’t experience injustice or is wronged in these matters.”
An Iranian official told the semi-official Iranian Tasnim news agency on June 27 that entirely removing Iranian oil from the global market by November would be impossible. He said Tehran exports 2.5mn barrels per day (b/d) of crude and condensate per day. China and India import around 700,000 and 550,000 b/d, respectively.
Zeybekci also reportedly said during the conference that Turkey was unable to develop its exports to China because of tariff and non-tariff obstacles and would take measures to address this. He did not elaborate on what those measures might be.