TURKEY: Iran gas deal irritates

23 August 1996

US Pressure is mounting on US President Clinton to react to the signing of the $23,000 million gas supply deal between Turkey and Iran on 12 August. US law now requires the president to impose sanctions an anyone who makes new investments of $40 million or more in oil and gas projects in Iran or Libya (see Feature).

The US urged Turkey not to go ahead with the deal, but officials said that they would have to carefully study the agreement before deciding whether it warranted sanctions. 'I don't know either way...but I think we'll try to find out and ask the Turks what is this deal?' State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns said on 12 August. Ankara says the law does not apply because the agreement with Iran involves trade and not investment.

Senator Alfonse DAmato, who drafted the legislation on Iran and Libya, has urged Clinton to step into the fray. 'I urge you in the strongest of terms to seek a dialogue with Turkey on alternative sources for Turkey's energy needs and prevent this deal from going forth, or place sanctions on Turkey,' he said in a letter to Clinton on 13 August.

The government is also pressing ahead with plans to import gas from Qatar (see Qatar).

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