US extends sanctions waiver for Iraq to import Iranian gas
Iran Press TV
Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:29 AM
The United States has granted Iraq a shortened 45-day sanctions waiver to import gas from neighboring Iran.
An Iraqi official announced the extension on Saturday, adding that it will expire days before US President Donald Trump's term ends.
On Friday, a spokesman for the State Department announced that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had extended for 45 more days the waiver that allows Iraq to buy Iranian electricity.
"The secretary has renewed the sanctions waiver for Iraq to engage in financial transactions related to the import of electricity from Iran," the spokesman said. "The waiver ensures that Iraq is able to meet its short-term energy needs while it takes steps to reduce its dependence on Iranian energy imports."
The US waivers usually last 120 days, but the period was reduced to 60 days in the summer after Pompeo intensified pressure on Iran.
In May, Washington granted Iraq a four-month extension as a gesture of goodwill towards Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi. However, the waiver was renewed for only 60 days until November 22.
Trump's administration blacklisted Iran's energy industry in late 2018 following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
It also put pressure on Iraq to make itself less dependent on Iran's gas and electricity, but Iraqi leaders say the demand is a bar set too high given the Arab country's state of infrastructure which is still badly battered decades after the US invasion and sanctions and economic decline.
The US has been enlisting its companies and allies such as Saudi Arabia to replace Iran as Iraq's source of energy.
Iraq relies on Iran for natural gas that generates as much as 45% of its electricity. Iran transmits another 1,200 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor, but the United States is trying to pry Baghdad away from Tehran's orbit.
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