Iraq to ask US for exemptions on some Iran sanctions

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has been caught in the crossfire of the US sanctions on Iran. (AP)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Iraq to ask US for exemptions on some Iran sanctions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad is going to ask Washington for permission to ignore some US sanctions on its neighbor, Iraqi government and central bank officials said.

US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from an international deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program earlier this year and reimposed trade sanctions.

Washington has said there will be consequences for countries that do not respect the sanctions.

Baghdad is in a difficult position. Iraq imports crucial supplies from ally Iran, but its other major ally is the US, which provides security 
assistance and training.

The request would mark an 
important change in political tactics for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. He initially said Baghdad would respect all the US sanctions, but faced heavy criticism from rivals.

The officials told Reuters a delegation will travel to Washington to ask for exemptions in applying the sanctions. They did not say when that trip would take place.

“The government plans to ask Washington for a waiver. It’s going to happen soon,” one central bank 
official said.

An official in Abadi’s office declined to comment. An official in the US State Department said it was discussing Iran policy with its partners around the world.

“We have given the same message to all countries around the world that the President has said, the United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions,” the official said.

“Iraq is a friend and important partner of the US and we are committed to ensuring Iraqi stability and prosperity.”

Iraqi officials fear shortages of key items if Baghdad complies with all the sanctions, which could lead to political turmoil at a delicate time in Iraqi politics.

Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, air conditioners and spare car parts. The goods element of Iranian imports to Iraq was about $6 billion for the 12 months to March 2018, about 15 percent of Iraq’s total imports for 2017.

Energy contracts between the two countries contributed to a volume of trade of $12 billion last year.

The officials said they were asking each ministry to put together a list of imports that are essential for Iraq’s economy. Those items will make up the request for exemptions.

The US sanctions that came into 
effect earlier this month target Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of US dollars and its car industry. Other sanctions will come into force in November.

 


BAE warns of risk from German stance on Saudi arms

Updated 5 min 30 sec ago
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BAE warns of risk from German stance on Saudi arms

  • BAE makes 14 percent of its annual sales from selling Typhoons and other arms to Saudi Arabia
  • Germany is part of the consortium that builds the Eurofighter Typhoon, a fighter jet that BAE has sold to Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Leading British defense contractor BAE Systems said German moves to block exports to Saudi Arabia could damage its major deals with the country and weigh on its financial performance.
BAE said that it was reliant on the approval of export licenses by a number of governments to continue supplies to Saudi Arabia.
“The position on export licensing currently adopted by the German government may affect the group’s ability to provide the required capability to the Kingdom,” it said in its annual financial results on Thursday, adding it was working with British authorities to minimize the risk.
Germany is part of the consortium that builds the Eurofighter Typhoon, a fighter jet that BAE has sold to Saudi Arabia, through Airbus and MTU Aero Engines.
Germany’s government is trying to halt weapons exports to Saudi Arabia after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October but Britain has urged the country to exempt big defense projects or face damage to its commercial credibility.
BAE makes 14 percent of its annual sales from selling Typhoons and other arms to Saudi Arabia. “The issue of German licenses is a political issue and as such requires it to be resolved at the political level ... To date, the impact has been minimal, but over time, it could become more difficult,” Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said.