President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey would not abide by the renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping industries as they were aimed at “unbalancing the world”.
Washington reimposed the sanctions on Monday, ditching a 2015 deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program. The U.S. measures temporarily allow some major customers, including Turkey, to continue buying Iranian crude.
But Erdogan condemned the sanctions. “These are steps aimed at unbalancing the world. We don’t want to live in an imperialist world. These issues will be put on the table at the summit (this weekend) in Paris,” he told reporters.
“We will absolutely not abide by such sanctions. We buy 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas. We cannot freeze our people in the cold.”
NATO member Turkey depends heavily on imports to meet its energy needs and neighboring Iran has been one of its main suppliers of oil because of its proximity, the quality of its crude and favorable price differentials.
In an interview, Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, mentioned a temporary waiver period of six months and said Turkey would evaluate developments during this time when holding talks following the end of their exemption.
“We are not going to abandon our interests because the United States is imposing sanctions on this or that country for whatever reason,” Kalin said. “We will evaluate the six-month period, but we will not compromise our principles at the table,” he told broadcaster Haberturk late on Tuesday.
Speaking in Japan earlier on Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister said it would be dangerous to isolate Iran and it was not easy for countries like Turkey and Japan to diversify energy supplies.
“We do not believe any result can be reached with sanctions. I think meaningful dialogue and talks are more useful than sanctions,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
U.S. President Donald Trump aims to hit Iran’s economy and force it to abandon not only its nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile program but also its support for militant proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.
Erdogan will attend a summit to commemorate the end of World War One in Paris over the weekend, where he is expected to have talks with Trump over issues including the renewed sanctions and policy in Syria.