An Iranian minister says the Islamic Republic will not comply with the “fully illegal” US sanctions.
Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh elaborated during a joint conference with his Iraqi counterpart Thamer al-Ghadhban in Baghdad on Thursday: "We believe that we should not comply with the illegal sanctions against Iran.”
Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas to feed its power stations, importing roughly 1.5 billion standard cubic feet per day via pipelines in the south and east.
Last month, the US extended for 90 days a waiver granted to Iraq from sanctions against Iran but pledged to work with the country to end its dependence on Iranian natural gas.
The United States has granted Iraq a 90-day waiver over Iran sanctions to import natural gas and electricity.
The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s energy exports in November, but has granted waivers to several buyers provided that they reduce their liftings and find new sources.
Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs, said this month that Tehran has found new customers for its oil in spite of the US sanctions.
Zangeneh also stressed on Thursday that Iran would not discuss the volume or destination of its oil exports while it remained under US sanctions.
The sanctions imposed in November to target Iran's lifelines in the oil, energy and shipping sectors have led to a drop by several hundred thousand barrels per day in oil exports.
Meanwhile, Iraq has moved in to fill the vacuum from Iranian cuts in oil exports because the Arab country's grades are similar to Iran's.
In India where major refineries are adjusted to Iranian grade, Iraq replaced Saudi Arabia last August as the top oil supplier after imports of Iranian oil fell by a third.
Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well as Russia dashed to ramp up oil production in the run-up to an early November deadline set by US President Donald Trump to sanction Iran's oil sector, leading to a collapse in prices.
Iran is pushing forth with a 2025 vision plan to raise its exports to Iraq to $20 billion a year despite US pressures on Baghdad to keep Tehran at its arm’s length.
Iraq has extensive trade ties with Iran, with officials saying the two neighbors have sharply increased their trade exchanges in recent months despite the US sanctions.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has said his country “will not be part of the sanctions regime, as it will not be part of aggression against any country."
Iran's Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi said last November trade between the two countries was on track to reach $8.5 billion this year, and Iran hoped to expand bilateral trade to $22 billion annually.