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Oil Deplomacy Frustrating US Policy

Source: Iran.Daily 7/16/2005, Location: Asia

With the announcement of a landmark oil and power agreement with Iraq, Iran is on the move diplomatically.Under the deal with Iraq, the two countries will swap refined oil for crude oil and connect their electricity grids.Also this week, Iran secured ’serious commitment’ from India and Pakistan for a $4.5 billion pipeline deal to transport Iranian oil eastward, according to Lebanon-based newspaper Daily Star.

The United States is wary of Iran’s oil diplomacy. While reluctant to speak out against the Iraq deal, it has made no secret of its displeasure with the India-Pakistan pipeline.US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said tersely, “We have communicated to the Indian government our concerns about gas pipeline cooperation between Iran and India.

The Iraq agreement stemmed perhaps more from the fledgling government’s desperation to solve its energy crisis, and the US offered tepid support.The deal with Iraq comprises of a 40-kilometer oil pipeline between the Iraqi oil center of Basra and Iran’s Abadan port, the use of Iran’s Caspian ports to import refined fuel into Iraq from Central Asia. A senior Iraqi official said it will be signed next week.Mismanagement and sabotage against power facilities have turned Iraq into an importer of refined fuels, mostly from Turkey and the Persian Gulf, after the US invasion in 2003 created severe energy shortages.

Iraq will export 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Abadan and receive the equivalent in return in refined oil, helping to ease shortages in the country. Pakistan has said it is aware it faces sanctions if it goes ahead with the Iran-India gas pipeline but cannot abandon the project due to the economic benefits it will bring.Announcement of a ’serious commitment’ by Pakistan and India suggests that US influence hasn’t succeeded in foiling, or even slowing, the project.

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