Moscow (Web Desk) Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak says his country will help Iran counter fresh US sanctions due to come into effect late this week, saying Moscow will continue trading Tehran’s crude in defiance of Washington.
“We believe we should look for mechanisms that would allow us to continue developing cooperation with our partners, with Iran,” Novak told the Financial Times.
The US plans to impose a second round of sanctions against Iran on Sunday, months after Washington scrapped the 2015 multilateral deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
The first round of the bans – which had been lifted under the nuclear deal — was re-imposed in August.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has warned Russia against any move that could help Iran evade the sanctions.
Novak further emphasized that Moscow has no concerns about the threat of US retaliation for handling Iranian crude.
“We already live in the conditions of sanctions. We do not recognize the sanctions introduced unilaterally without the United Nations, we consider those methods illegal per se,” the Russian energy minister said.
Novak further added that Russia seeks to “continue developing” its trading of Iranian oil under an oil-for-goods scheme originally signed in 2014 between the two countries regardless of the US sanctions.
He made no comment on whether an increase in trading was likely, but noted that Russia would examine the impacts of the US sanctions before making any decision in this regard.
Back in November, the Russian energy minister said the first Iranian oil supply to Russia under the oil-for-assets program has been completed and the two sides could extend the deal for five years when it runs out at the end of the year.
According to the arrangement, Russia would initially buy 100,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.
The deal allows for an increase in currently-traded volumes and Iran will be looking for additional buyers if some of its regular customers turn away when the sanctions take effect.
In April, Novak said Russia is considering payments in national currencies in trade with Iran and Turkey amid their escalating tensions with the US.
“There is a common understanding that we need to move towards the use of national currencies in our settlements. There is a need for this, as well as the wish of the parties,” Russian broadcaster RT quoted Novak as saying.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Friday the United States is seeking to wage an extensive “psychological war” against Tehran by imposing a fresh round of sanctions, stressing that the Islamic Republic has no concerns over such US bids.
“There is no room for any concern. We should wait and see that the US will not be able to carry out any measure against the great and brave Iranian nation,” Qassemi told IRIB.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that the United States will allow eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil but only at much lower levels after the re-imposition of sanctions.
Turkey exempt from US bans on Iran oil: Minister
Meanwhile, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Friday that his country would be among eight countries receiving a waiver from the United States to continue importing Iranian oil.
“We know Turkey is among the countries that will be given an exemption but we do not have the details,” Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu quoted the minister as saying.
Speaking to reporters in parliament, he commended US statements to allow imports at low levels after the reinstatement of sanctions on Iran from Monday.
“I believe the point that we have reached will be a positive contribution to the region’s peace, comfort and stability,” the minister added.
Donmez noted that Turkish and American officials held negotiations before Washington’s decision.
US to grant Iraq waiver over Iran sanctions for gas, food items: Iraqi officials
In another development, three Iraqi officials said on Friday Washington has told Baghdad that it would grant “conditional” waiver to Iraq to keep importing crucial gas, energy supplies and food items from Iran after the re-imposition of new sanctions on Tehran.
The waiver is conditional on Iraq not paying Iran for the imports in US dollars, said the officials, who included a member of Iraq’s ministerial committee that oversees energy activities.
The ministerial committee said Iraq’s Finance Ministry had set up an account with a state-run bank where Baghdad would deposit in Iraqi dinars the amounts owed to Iran for the imports.