Turkey busts Iranian oil smugglers

Ministers say Ankara’s legal oil trade with Iran will not decrease, despite US pressure

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Illustrative photo of an oil refinery. (photo credit: CC BY-SA mastermaq, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of an oil refinery. (photo credit: CC BY-SA mastermaq, Flickr)

Despite the booming legal oil trade between Iran and Turkey, Turkish authorities discovered a three-kilometer long pipeline used to smuggle Iranian oil into Turkey, the Doğan News Agency reported on Monday.

According to the report, the illegal facility located in the Hakkari border province included “a small refinery and five storage tanks, each with 5,000 liters of capacity” a power generator, and housing.

[mappress mapid=”3146″]

Turkish security forces dismantled the structure, seized the gas and equipment, and launched an investigation into the illegal operation.

The United States on Friday extended a second round of half-year waivers on Iran sanctions to Turkey, China, India and several other countries in exchange for reducing oil purchases from Tehran. The measure exempts banks and other financial institutions in those countries from penalties that the US enacted in order to pressure Iran give up its unsanctioned nuclear program, which the US suspects is for producing nuclear weapons.

Ankara trades gold for Iranian oil and gas which, according to the semiofficial Iranian Revolutionary News Agency amounted to $7 billion in earnings for Tehran since February.

The Turkish daily Sabah on Saturday reported that “the Israeli lobby, which was intent on obstructing Turkey’s natural gas purchases from Iran, appears to have hit a wall,” with the extension of exemptions to Ankara, and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Friday that Washington has not demanded that Ankara reduce its crude oil imports from Iran in exchange for the penalty exemptions.

Turkish Economy Ministry Zafer Çağlayan on Sunday responded to the US’s move saying “the decision of the US and the European Union does not influence Iran-Turkey relations,” according to the semiofficial Iranian Fars News Agency.

He noted the US’s opposition to Turkey’s gold exports to Iran, but said that “Turkey is neither a member of USA nor a member of the European Union, hence the decisions of these two are relevant and binding just for them.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed