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18 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Russia, China tighten ties with Iran

AFP

Russia and China moved yesterday to extend their economic influence in Iran, while Europeans are finding it harder to ignore efforts by Washington to isolate Tehran economically, reports AFP from Astana. In one of the most concrete moves yet against renewed US efforts to choke off Iran economically, a Russian-led trade bloc signed an interim trade deal with Iran and signaled plans to negotiate a free trade zone.

Meanwhile, Iran's oil minister said that Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC was ready to replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out.

The fate of Total's participation in the gas project demonstrates the difficulty the European Union faces in resisting Washington's move as European firms stand to lose much more from busting US sanctions.

Earlier this month US President Donald Trump's controversially pulled Washington out of an international deal with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for easing economic sanctions.

China, Russia and EU members Britain, France and Germany were also signatories of the 2015 pact, opposed Washington's abandonment of the deal which Iran had respected.

But companies around the world now face a difficult choice as Washington has previously slapped huge fines on firms which bust US sanctions.

However Total has indicated it will go forward with the investment only if it wins an exemption from Washington on the sanctions.

Other European firms are likely to make a similar calculation that the US market is worth much more to them than Iran.

Russian firms have less to lose from bucking US sanctions. Many major Russian companies are already operating under

tightening US sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and its role in the Ukraine crisis. Russian companies also traded with Iran when US sanctions were in place before the deal.

“Under the prerequisite of not violating its international obligations, the Chinese side will continue to carry out normal and transparent practical cooperation with Iran,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. He added that “the Chinese government always opposes the unilateral sanctions and the so-called long-arm jurisdiction that any country takes according to its domestic laws.” Chinese companies were involved in at least $33 billion of infrastructure projects in China as of June last year, with Chinese government-linked institutions providing much of the financing using euros and yuan to avoid US sanctions.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that EU countries agreed the Iran nuclear deal was “not perfect” but insisted it should be preserved, after the US withdrawal threw the accord into doubt, reports AFP from Sofia.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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