Baghdad is looking for approval from Washington to import Iranian gas and energy supplies in exchange for food items, according to two Iraqi government officials as quoted by Reuters.
The Iraqi authorities are reportedly planning to keep on importing Iranian gas, which is used in the country’s power stations, as they need more time for searching alternative sources of energy.
“The American deadline of 45 days to stop importing Iranian gas is not enough at all for Iraq to find an alternative source,” one of the officials said.
“Stopping Iranian gas after the deadline will create a real power crisis. We need more time. The Americans are completely aware of how desperately we need Iranian gas.”
Iraq along with South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Greece, Japan, China, India and Italy, was granted waivers from the White House allowing Baghdad to gradually reduce energy purchases from Iran. The decision came shortly after the US re-introduced economic sanctions against Tehran in two stages.
The latest round of penalties that went into effect on November 5 targets Iran’s energy, finance and shipping sectors. Washington also threatened to introduce secondary sanctions against countries and corporations that continue to do business with Tehran. Earlier, the White House sanctioned Iran’s auto industry, carpets, metals trading and access to US dollars.
Monetary transactions have become difficult for Iran after the country was cut off from the SWIFT payment system under pressure from the US government. Without access to SWIFT’s interbank payment system, Iran cannot get paid for exports and pay for imports.
The renewed sanctions against the Islamic Republic came after the US unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 international pact aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Washington reportedly allowed Iraq to import Iranian gas as well as food items, but said the exemption would last only 45 days.