31 March 2012
Turkey is planning to begin importing oil from Libya instead of Iran as it seeks to comply with U.S. demands that countries reduce their dependence on the Islamic republic’s natural resources, according to Energy Minister Taner Yýldýz.
“We will begin purchasing crude oil from Libya via the private Turkish Petroleum Refineries Company [TÜPRAŢ] in 2012. We believe that this was the right step to take, to boost our commercial relationship with Libya and help with the normalization of the country. We will reduce the amount of crude oil purchased from Iran accordingly,” Yýldýz was quoted as saying March 30 by Anatolia news agency.
Turkey will purchase about 1 million tons of crude oil from Libya in 2012, he said.
TÜPRAŢ had said March 20 that it would reduce the amount of crude oil it purchases from Iran by 20 percent and that the reduced amount would be met via other sources.
Responding to a reporter’s question regarding U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone’s remarks March 29 over Washington’s hopes that Turkey would reduce Iranian oil imports, Yýldýz said he hoped the ambassador had not made “such a statement.”
“We might discuss the matter at a meeting [that was already scheduled for late March 30], but I think he did not mean it. We can discuss this [with him] after reading transcripts of [his speech],” said Yýldýz.
“We certainly hope Turkey will reduce its oil imports from Iran, but we have not come to a conclusion about Turkey’s decision in this regard,” Ricciardone had said March 29.
Iran’s nuclear arguments convincing: Erdođan
Meanwhile, Iran has provided convincing assurances that its nuclear program is peaceful, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdođan said March 29 after a visit to Tehran while also accusing the West of having a double standard because it turns a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear weapons.
“Iran’s religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says openly and clearly that weapons of mass destruction are not acceptable according to ‘fiqh’ and shariah [Islamic legal interpretations]. If he says that, I cannot then claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Don’t they have the right to a nuclear program for peaceful purposes?” Erdođan said.
Erdođan said inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had failed to confirm that Iran was developing a nuclear bomb. “We hope that the world will be fair to everyone. Israel, for instance, has a number of [nuclear] warheads. No one is calling them to account for that. The West must hold them accountable. So, therefore, we are compelled to think that they are not sincere and we are asking why,” he said.
No Turkish-Iranian enmity
Despite differences over the Syrian turmoil and Iranian misgivings over a U.S.-run NATO radar system located in eastern Turkey, Ankara is still committed to maintaining dialogue and good ties with Tehran, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutođlu said.
Ankara will not “allow a regional balance based on Turkish-Iranian enmity,” despite the two neighbors’ differing position on the crisis in Syria, Davutođlu said in a television interview. “There may be people who want to start a cold war, but neither Turkey nor Iran will let that happen.”
The installation of a U.S.-run radar system in eastern Turkey as part of NATO’s missile shield project was also discussed in Tehran, Davutođlu said, adding that Iran was not angry with Turkey but was “uneasy” over the presence of such a facility.
He also said Ankara would have the option of leaving the project within six months if intelligence was shared with non-NATO members.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) described Erdođan’s visit to Tehran as a “fiasco,” noting that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delayed his meeting with Erdođan on the grounds he was sick, but met with a delegation from Turkmenistan the dame day.
“Erdođan has returned empty-handed,” the CHP’s Faruk Lođođlu said.