Yerevan Rules Out Support For U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

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Armenian parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan (Center) speaks at the Atlantic Council in Washington

Armenian parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan (Center) speaks at the Atlantic Council in Washington

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—The United States should not pressure Armenia to cut commercial ties to neighboring Iran because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran, parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan said during a visit to Washington.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think-tank, on Monday, Mirzoyan said that the standoff between the U.S. and Iran is already having a negative impact on the Armenian economy.

“We don’t want the United States to put pressure on Armenia for joining in its Iran sanctions agenda,” the Armenian service of the Voice of America quoted him as saying. “Armenia cannot pay such a price.”

Mirzoyan argued that Iran serves as one of his landlocked country’s two conduits to the outside world due to closed borders with the two other Muslim neighbors: Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The Armenian speaker, who is a close associate of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, commented on the “very interesting and heated discussion” at the Atlantic Council on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “I informed American partners that our economy is suffering losses due to the sanctions against Iran and that we cannot stop buying Iranian gas,” he wrote.

Iran has supplied up to 500 million cubic meters of natural gas to Armenia annually over the past decade. The latter pays for it electricity supplied to the Islamic Republic.

Iranian officials offered to expand this swap arrangement when they held talks with Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan in Tehran earlier this month. Grigoryan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service last week that Yerevan is interested in boosting Iranian gas imports.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton discussed the U.S. sanctions with Pashinyan during an October 2018 trip to Armenia. Bolton said Washington will be enforcing them “very vigorously” and that traffic through the Armenian-Iranian border will therefore become a “significant issue.”

In November, a team of officials from the U.S. state and treasury departments visited Yerevan to explain the sanctions to Armenia’s government and private sector. Pashinian made clear afterwards that that his government will “deepen not only economic but also political relations” with Tehran.

Meeting with Pashinyan in the Iranian capital in February, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Armenia to strengthen its relationship with his country “contrary to what the United States wants.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani likewise said after separate talks with the Armenian leader that the two neighbors will not allow any “third country” to undermine their cordial relationship.

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5 Comments

  1. Dr.Hermon Mihranian said:

    Yes Yerevan must not support the US in this matter. Iran supports the Armenian community in the country and is an essential ally.
    Dr.Hermon Mihranian

  2. Jack said:

    Armenia is going to suffer more in the future when Iran is inevitably crippled by US-Israel-EU effort, which also further jeopardizes Artsakh. Armenia should drop its pro-Russia pro-Iran stance, and go with the West, but now it’s probably too late. We had the opportunity to be have better relations with the West, the superpower of the world like it or not, and capable of funding anything, instead Armenian politicians and peasants still live in fantasy land thinking of USSR 2.0. Armenians do business with Turkey all the time unofficially, open the border, drop the genocide condition, and think of Armenia’s future- in another 100 years nobody is going to be thinking about genocide reparations. PS- Iranian government does not recognize the Armenian Genocide either and uses Armenia just like we use them.

    • Raffi said:

      @ Jack: Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away. PS: ”US” government does not recognize the Armenian Genocide either and uses Armenia just like we use them.

  3. john abajian said:

    Bolton is a liar. The US cannot legitiamately promise anything (good or bad) as it has an illegitimate president.

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