AFP reports: American sanctions on Iran pose difficulties for Iraq because of its close economic ties with the Islamic republic, so Baghdad plans to seek a waiver from the US, the government spokesman told AFP.
The United States, European Union and others have ramped up sanctions to target Iran’s oil industry and central bank in an effort to pressure Tehran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is part of a secret drive to build an atomic bomb.
Iran insists its nuclear project is peaceful and has threatened retaliation over the fresh sanctions, including possibly disrupting shipping through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf chokepoint for global oil shipments.
“We have a huge relation financially between the private sectors” of “Iraq and Iran, as Iran is the main supplier for many of the foodstuff and the other commodities here in Iraq,” spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.
Trade between Iraq and Iran is in the billions of dollars and also includes Iraqi government purchases, Dabbagh said, noting that Iranian exports to Iraq range from electricity and fuel to food and various other commodities.
“It is not possible for Iraq to follow such sanctions,” Dabbagh said. “We are looking for our own interests.”
“In a few days we are going to submit a request to the United States to exempt us.”
The US embassy in Baghdad on Thursday declined to comment on the issue, as it had not received a request from Iraq.