Iran to boost energy cooperation with Austria

July 21, 2007 - 0:0

TEHRAN (PIN) -- Tehran says it is committed to removing the barriers facing Iran-Austria trade ties and to facilitate economic exchanges.

Chairman of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines (ICCIM) Mohammad Nahavandian, in a meeting with the Austrian Ambassador to Tehran Michael Postle here on Thursday, called for the bolstering of the two countries’ economic cooperation. During the meeting, Nahavandian pointed to Iran’s new economic conditions and noted that the private sector’s activities have been facilitated since the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued orders for the full implementation of Article 44 of the Constitution. He also noted the need for enhanced economic cooperation between the Iranian and Austrian private sectors, adding, “We need cooperation in giant energy projects and Austria … can be a good partner for Iran in energy transfer.” “At a time when our government seeks to reduce fossil fuel consumption, use of clean energy resources can provide a good opportunity for cooperation,” Nahavandian continued. He voiced the readiness of the ICCIM to remove the problems facing the two countries’ trade ties and to facilitate Iran-Austria economic exchanges. For his part, Postle elaborated on his country’s economic advantages and the need for clean energy resources. Noting the two countries’ age-old economic relations, the envoy said that his country has always been a good friend of Iran, and added, “I believe that the two countries’ joint interests would not allow a downgrading of their economic ties.” Austrian officials have defended OMV against increased U.S. pressure to drop the multimillion gas deal with Iran or face sanctions. Christoph Leitl, head of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, rejected the threats, saying Austria’s businesses would “fully support” OMV. Austrian companies would certainly honor decisions by the United Nations, European Union, the World Trade Organization, and local laws, he said. It was, however, not acceptable if a single country passed different unilateral decisions and threatened sanctions, Leitl said in remarks last month. High-ranking U.S. officials warned OMV and Austria’s government earlier that the U.S. would not rule out implementing the “Iran Sanctions Act” as a measure of last resort should the deal go ahead. Other European companies with ambitions in Iran - like the Spanish oil company Repsol, for example - were also under U.S. scrutiny, U.S. officials said. The sanctions act could exclude companies investing more than 20 million dollars from the U.S. capital market. This exclusion could be damaging to OMV’s international reputation, the oil company was warned. OMV and Iran in April announced plans to cooperate in Iran’s first-ever national gas project. The deal includes the development of some sectors of Iran’s gas fields, a gas liquefaction plant and purchasing contracts for liquefied natural gas. According to Iranian reports, the deal would be worth 30 billion dollars over the next 25 years. OMV CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, as well as Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik have in the past defended the project