AVA- “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,” an Iraqi official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The announcement came after the US embassy in Iraq said on Thursday that Washington had given Baghdad 45 days to stop purchasing gas and electricity from Iran.
Iraq has extensive trade ties with Iran and heavily depends on Iranian natural gas imports for electricity generation. Basra in southern Iraq was hit by violent protests which spread to other cities this summer, partly because of a halt of Iranian electricity exports.
Earlier this month, Iraq’s former prime minister and leader of the al-Wataniya faction in parliament Ayad Allawi warned that new US sanctions on Iran would have deep impact on the Iraqi economy.
Allawi said like the Iraqi government and other political leaders, he was opposed to unilateral US sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iraq’s al-Maluma news agency reported.
Iraqi new Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi also said his country “will not be part of the sanctions regime, as it will not be part of aggression against any country."
The two neighbours are currently working on increasing Iranian gas flow to Sadr, Baghdad and al-Mansuriya power plants through a 270-kilometer pipeline and to Basra near the Iranian border via a separate pipeline.
Iran's gas supply to Baghdad began last June at a rate of 7 million cubic meters per day. It will increase to 35 million cubic meters daily, according to the terms of their agreement.
Head of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce Jafar Rasul Hamdani said on Tuesday that Iran’s gas and electricity exports to Iraq rose 40 percent in the first six months of the current year from the same period a year ago.
A second official told Reuters on Wednesday that Iraq would submit a request to the United States to allow it to import beyond the 45-day deadline.
Iran is currently Iraq's top trade partner. Hamdani said despite US sanctions against Iran, the two countries have sharply increased their trade exchanges in recent months.