Japan relies on Iranian oil, to talk to US about it: Minister

April 20, 2019 - 11:45

Japan says it relies on crude imports from Iran and seeks to hold talks with the United States about the matter to keep its energy supply steady, amid ongoing attempts by Washington to curtail Iran’s oil sales and punish third countries that buy Iranian crude.

“Japan’s relationship with Iran, as one of the world’s leading oil producing countries, is important as the country (Japan) relies on almost all of its petroleum [needs] on imports,” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Hiroshige Seko said at a Friday press conference in Tokyo, oil pricing agency S&P Global Platts reported.

“We intend to have close discussions with the US side in order to avoid having a harmful effect from the US measures on Japan’s stable energy supply and its corporate activity,” Seko added.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has taken an aggressive approach toward the Islamic Republic. Trump has unilaterally withdrawn America from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran that mainly guarantees continued Iranian oil sales.

Tehran and the other parties to the deal have remained in the agreement. The Trump administration has said nevertheless that it will work to bring Iranian oil sales to “zero” and has imposed sanctions both on Iran and on the countries that do business with it, including in the energy sector. But the US was forced to offer 180-day waivers from its oil sanctions to eight of Iran’s major clients, including Japan, in November last year — some six months after it had withdrawn from the nuclear deal — to avoid disrupting the market.

Those waivers expire on May 2, and while Washington had previously said it would not extend the waivers to the eight countries again, it has recently adopted a more ambiguous tone about the matter. A separate waiver for Iraq, which imports both gas and oil from Iran, has been extended by America at least three times.

Meanwhile, Iran’s trade partners are angered by the fact that their international trade has been targeted based on domestic US law.

Iran exported 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in March, the highest since October last year, when shipments had fallen to 1.08 million bpd, data from shipping sources compiled by S&P Global Platts showed.

Speaking earlier this year, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran’s measures to cushion the impacts of US sanctions against the country would take Trump by “surprise.”

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