ISTANBUL - Turkey's energy minister said on Thursday that he sees no conflict between Ankara and Washington over US plans to widen trade sanctions against Iran, including Turkish-Iranian "gold for gas" trade.
US senators and aides told Reuters this week that new sanctions aimed at reducing global trade with Iran in the energy, shipping and metals sectors may soon be considered by the US Senate as part of an annual defense policy bill.
One senior aide said the move would end "Turkey's game of gold for natural gas," referring to Iran's conversion of Turkish payments for gas into gold because of the sanctions.
Iran sells oil and gas to Turkey, with payments made to Iranian state institutions. US and European banking sanctions ban payments in US dollars or euros, so Iran is paid in Turkish lira - of limited value for buying goods on international markets, but ideal for buying gold in Turkey.
Couriers carrying millions of dollars worth of gold bullion in their luggage have been flying from Istanbul to Dubai, where the gold is shipped to Iran, industry sources with knowledge of the business told Reuters last month.
Official Turkish trade data suggests that nearly $2 billion in gold was sent to Dubai on behalf of Iranian buyers in August. The shipments help Tehran to manage its finances in the face of Western financial sanctions. By using physical gold, Iran can continue to move its wealth across borders.