Turkey will sign a $3 billion energy accord with Iran next month, ignoring U.S. warnings to abondon the deal because of international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear research and advises to seek alternatives such as agreeing with other regional suppliers including Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
“Turkey is proceeding with plans to develop natural-gas fields in Iran and build pipelines to deliver gas to Europe because both the EU and Turkey need the fuel,” Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said in Ankara.
“This isn’t an act of rebellion, it’s entirely an economic matter stemming from the need for gas. EU countries want Iranian gas.”
Guler will meet Iranian Energy Minister Parviz Fattah after a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, to sign the energy accord, he said.
The U.S. has called on Turkey, the only Muslim member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to scrap the deal and boycott Iranian commercial interests to help persuade the country to negotiate an end to its nuclear research.
The US opposition to Iran-Turkey gas deal was once again voiced during the recent visit of U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns to Ankara. After a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Burns answered questions of reporters where he called for U.N. Security Council members and U.S. allies to help push for a third round of sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear work. Furthermore, Burns pointed out that an energy deal signed between Iran and Turkey in July was not helpful. The preliminary deal foresees the construction of two separate pipelines to ship natural gas from the fields in Iran and neighboring Turkmenistan via Turkish territory.
Last weekend U.S. Undersecretary of Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Reuben Jeffery also criticized Turkey, saying, “There is no shortage of gas in the region. The question is developing it in a responsible way with states that are politically stable and responsible to the international community.”
Iran has the world’s second-biggest reserves of natural gas and is Turkeyâ€™s second biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia. Turkey and Iran signed a preliminary agreement on July 24, which revolved around the construction of two pipelines. Turkey plans to invest 3.5 billion dollars in Iran for gas production. The first pipeline would originate from Iranâ€™s South Pars gas field and second from Turkmenistan, Iranâ€™s Central Asian neighbor. Analysts say Turkey can use part of this gas for its own consumption. The rest can be transferred further into Europe along the upcoming Nabucco pipeline.