JAPAN, U.S. TO REACH AGREEMENT ON IRAN OIL IMPORT CUT
- Japan is close to agreement with Washington on the size of cuts refiners must make in imports of Iranian crude oil to win waivers from U.S. sanctions, two ministers said Tuesday, Feb 21 after a media report the two sides would settle on an 11 percent cut.
The Yomiuri newspaper, citing unidentified sources, said Japan and the United States reached an agreement at talks last week about the size of cuts to crude imports from Iran, with a formal deal expected by the end of this month.
Avoiding sanctions is essential to protect the Japanese financial sector's operations abroad, but cutting oil imports could pose a risk to Japan's economy.
Reliance on oil imports has grown since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima radiation crisis, leading to most nuclear reactors at Japanese power plants being shut down.
"We are closely negotiating with the United States and are moving forward toward mutual understanding, but it is not the case that we have reached a conclusion," Trade Minister Yukio Edano told reporters.
Washington is pushing ahead with sanctions because it fears Iran might use its nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons.
The European Union has imposed its own embargo on oil imports from Iran, to start from July 1. In response, Iran ordered a halt of oil sales to Britain and France Sunday in a move symbolic of Tehran's anger with the West, Reuters reported.
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