Turkey, Iran likely to sign gas deal soon

Iranian official: Ahmadinejad to sign deal during upcoming visit; Turkey yet to confirm deal.

Iran natural gas 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Iran natural gas 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Turkey and Iran will probably sign a natural gas deal during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's expected visit to the Turkish capital, Ankara, an Iranian official in Turkey said Tuesday. Turkish officials have yet to confirm the deal. Ahmad Noorani, in charge of economic affairs at the Iranian Embassy in Ankara, said the two countries agreed in May on the construction of a new gas pipeline to ensure a steady flow to Turkey, which suffers frequent cuts in gas from Iran during wintertime. Turkish officials and Noorani say they are expecting a visit by Ahmadinejad but have not announced the date. "We believe the agreement will be signed during the president's visit which is expected soon," Noorani said. On July 19, six major world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - set an informal two-week deadline for Iran to accept an economic incentives package in return for curbing its uranium enrichment. Many international experts fear the enrichment is part of a nuclear weapons program. The deadline passed this weekend with no clear response from Teheran. Babacan said Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Turkey has sought ways to increase cooperation with Iran, especially in the field of energy. Last year, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to build a gas pipeline to transport up to 40 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe per year through a US-backed pipeline that would stretch from Turkey to Austria. But US officials have since expressed strong opposition to the possibility of bringing Iranian gas to Europe via NATO-ally Turkey. The final agreement between Turkey and Iran has yet to be signed. The new agreement would be about another pipeline that would bring gas to Turkey for domestic consumption. Iran would pay for its construction, which is expected to cost around US$930 million, Noorani said.