US Warns Turkish Firms on Deals with Iran

President Obama during his visit to Turkey last year

ANKARA (Hürriyet)—Turkish companies that continue their relations with Iran in defiance of sanctions risk having all business ties with the United States severed, a U.S. government delegation to Turkey has reportedly warned.

The United States says it will enforce sanctions against Turkish organizations investing in Iran’s energy sector and those that sell processed petrol products to Iran.

“A group visited this week from the Treasury Department and discussed the new U.S. legislation on the U.N.’s decision [to impose] sanctions against Iran. There are Turkish companies that want to do business with the United States and they should be aware of the latest law,” Deborah Guido, the spokeswoman of the U.S. Embassy to Turkey, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Friday.

Daily Cumhuriyet reported Friday that a U.S. delegation visited Ankara in order to discuss outcomes of the new U.S. Iranian Sanctions Law, which was influenced by the United Nations Security Council’s judgment that “Iran is funding its arms through its energy sector.” The law targets Iran’s energy sector and states that companies doing business with the Islamic republic will be blacklisted by the United States and be subject to sanctions.

Since the law binds third countries that have relations with Iran, Turkey also would be affected, the officials said. According to the daily, “All companies investing in the Iranian energy sector above a certain amount will enter the U.S. blacklist and be subject to sanctions.”

World powers, led by Washington, backed a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran on June 9, cold-shouldering a Turkey-Brazil-brokered nuclear swap plan. The U.N. sanctions have been followed by unilateral punitive measures imposed by the U.S. and the European Union.

In addition to the sanctions threat, firms that continue relations with Iran risk losing all business connections with the United States. The sanctions will be carried out in nine areas, from import-export permits to credit opportunities.

The United States has said that the banking sector, including government banks, must take action in order to put effective international pressure on Iran over its controversial nuclear program. The U.S. law, passed July 1, contains a list of international private and state-owned banks – including Turkish banks – having connections with Iranian banks. These banks have been warned to cease money transfers to their Iranian counterparts or risk the severing of relations with the United States.

Turkey has said that enforcing sanctions toward Iran would be difficult. In response, the U.S. said, according to daily Cumhuriyet: “Turkey isn’t the only neighboring country doing business with Iran. These difficulties do not pertain only to Turkey. This is not a trade embargo. It’s a controlled effort that will take time and energy. Its legitimacy lies in U.N. decisions.”

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