22 December 2018, News Wires — The United States has extended for 90 days a waiver granted to Iraq from sanctions against Iran, a State Department spokesman said on Friday, allowing Baghdad to keep importing Iranian gas that is critical for Iraqi power production.
The extension was reached on Thursday, when a previous 45-day waiver was due to expire, during a visit to Washington by an Iraqi delegation, according to two Iraqi officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
“A 90-day waiver was granted to allow Iraq to continue to pay for electricity imports from Iran,” a State Department spokesman said, adding that the waiver will apply to both electricity and gas.
The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy exports in November, citing its nuclear program and meddling in the Middle East, but has granted waivers to several buyers to meet consumer energy needs.
Washington gave Iraq a 45-day waiver for imports of gas from Iran when it reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil sector on Nov. 5. Iraqi officials have said they need around two years to find an alternative source.
Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas to feed its power stations, importing roughly 1.5 billion standard cubic feet per day via pipelines in the south and east.
The State Department spokesman said Washington continued to work with Iraq to end its dependence on Iranian natural gas and increase its energy independence.
“These efforts will continue to promote the use of Iraqi natural resources, strengthen Iraq’s economy and development, and encourage a united, democratic, and prosperous Iraq free from malign Iranian influence,” the spokesman said.