Erdoğan says Turkey to continue buying natural gas from Iran despite U.S. sanctions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would continue to buy natural gas from neighbouring Iran despite U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported on Friday.

"Speaking to reporters on his return flight from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdogan said Turkey was not afraid of possible U.S. sanctions over its trade with Iran, adding that Ankara did not want to sever its cooperation with Tehran," Reuters said.

The United States announced on May 8, 2018, that it was withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran and would reimpose sanctions on the country. Erdoğan and several other Turkish officials spoke out against the decision, saying that Iran was a strategic ally, just like the United States.

Turkey is dependent on imports for almost all of its energy needs, and almost 40 percent of its electricity is produced in gas-fired plants.

Under the terms of long-term supply contracts signed by Ankara and Tehran before the new round of sanctions, Turkey was set to buy 9.5 billion cubic metres of gas over the period up to 2026.

The Trump administration on Wednesday sanctioned several Chinese companies for allegedly shipping Iranian oil in violation of U.S. sanctions and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would penalise every infringement.

Meanwhile, Ankara is already at odds with Washington over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems. Turkey risks further sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, 2017 legislation designed to discourage third party defence trade with Russia. There is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress to take further punitive measures against Turkey over the S-400 purchase.