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US renews waivers allowing Iraq to continue imports of gas, power from Iran: AP

The US has renewed for another 45-day period the sanctions waiver that enables Iraq to keep importing gas and electricity from neighboring Iran, a report says.

According to two Iraqi officials cited by the Associated Press, the new waiver gives Iraq just 45 days to show Americans that it is making good on conditions to boost domestic gas supply or find alternative sources for power, and lessen its reliance on Iran.

The last such waiver, issued in October, had given Iraq 120 days and was set to expire on February 13, 2020.

The 45-day period could be extended again once Iraq submits a technical timetable detailing how it plans to meet gas independence, said a senior Iraqi official with knowledge of sanctions negotiations with the US.

“It happened that the United States of America gave us a period of 45 days, and it could be extended in the event of us submitting a timetable regarding Iraqi gas investment,” the Iraqi official said. “Until now, we have not sent them a timetable.”

US grants Iraq sanctions waiver for gas, electricity imports from Iran

US grants Iraq sanctions waiver for gas, electricity imports from IranThe US has once again granted Iraq a waiver to continue gas and electricity imports from Iran despite the US sanctions.

Iraqi officials earlier told AP that the new waiver would be a test of Baghdad-Washington relations after the US assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s anti-terror commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike last month. 

Following the attack, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country. In response, the administration of US President Donald Trump threatened to shut off Iraq’s access to its oil money in a bank account in New York.

Gas imports from Iran generate as much as 45 percent of Iraq’s 14,000 megawatts of electricity consumed daily. Iran transmits another 1,000 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor.

Iraq and Iran share a 1,400-kilometer-long border. For their run-of-the-mill maintenance, Iraqis depend on Iranian companies for many things from food to machinery, electricity, natural gas, fruits and vegetables.

The Trump administration is pressing Iraq to stop buying natural gas and electricity from Iran or at least show signs that it is reducing the imports. The US has also urged Iraq to establish contracts with US companies.

The Iraqi cabinet reportedly moved toward placating US conditions to extend the sanctions waiver in late January by approving six oil contracts awarded by the Oil Ministry in April 2018 that would increase domestic gas supply in over two years.

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