ISTANBUL - Turkey will not be swayed by US sanctions pressure to halt gold exports to Iran but Tehran's demand for the metal may fall this year, Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said on Thursday.
US officials are concerned that Turkey's gold sales, which allow Iran to export natural gas, provides a financial lifeline to Tehran, which is largely frozen out of the global banking system by Western sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.
Trade in Turkish gold bars to Iran via Dubai is drying up as banks and dealers increasingly refuse to buy the bullion to avoid sanctions risks associated with the trade.
Turkey has a six-month US waiver exempting it from financial sanctions against Iran, which is due to expire in July.
"We will continue to make our gold exports this year to whoever seeks them. We have no restrictions and are not bound by restrictions imposed by others," the Turkish minister told reporters.