Turkey to Cooperate With West's Sanctions on Iran by Cutting Oil Imports

Ankara decides to cut oil imports by 20 percent in line with sanctions; Turkish PM says 'Israel has 250-300 nuclear warheads, and this is never discussed.'

Turkey decided to partially cooperate with the U.S. and European sanctions on Iran, and will cut its oil imports from the Islamic Republic by 20 percent.

Turkey's Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, said on Saturday that Turkey will make up for its oil imports by trading with Libya and other countries. It seems, however, that Turkey will not purchase oil from Saudi Arabia, after the kingdom refused to grant Ankara preferential conditions.

AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader
AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader

In light of Turkey's continued refusal to implement the full extents of the sanctions, it has recently come under heavy U.S. pressure in recent weeks, including warnings that Turkish oil companies might bear the brunt for such inaction.

According to the sanctions the U.S. is promoting, any country that does not downgrade its oil trade with Iran would face more U.S. sanctions – and despite efforts by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to include Turkey in this policy, U.S. President Barack Obama – despite a deep friendship between the countries – decided not to grant Ankara a 'pass.'

Erdogan decided to limit oil purchases from Iran after a long talk with Obama at the nuclear summit in South Korea last week, and updated Iranian Presidend Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in a meeting last Thursday in Tehran.

Despite the decision to limit oil purchases from Tehran – coupled with Ankara's plan to start importing gas from Iraq – civilian trade between the Islamic Republic and Turkey (which was worth 16 billion dollars this year) is not expected to change. In order to appease Iran, Erdogan said at a press conference upon returning from Tehran that Turkey is willing to dismantle the NATO anti-missile system deployed in its territory if the alliance does not comply with Ankara's terms. One of these conditions is that the radar system will not be used against Iran and that any information received by it will not be passed on to other countries – particularly Israel. Turkey "wont allow for a regional imbalance to be created by hostility between Turkey and Iran," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Ergodan added uppn returning from Iran on Friday that " Israel has 250-300 nuclear warheads. This is never discussed. Iran says it won't develop nuclear weapons."

Turkey opposes further sanctions on Iran, and supports the Islamic Republic's position that it has a right to develop nuclear technology for non-military purposes. On April 13, Turkey will host nuclear discussion between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.