On matters of energy security, Turkey is finding itself caught between Iran and the United States, two countries Ankara describes as allies.
The tension is especially evident when it comes to oil. Ankara seems willing to go along with US efforts to increase economic pressure on Iran, evidenced by Turkish officials’ recent decision to slash Iranian imports by 20 percent. Natural gas is another matter, however. The cost, not US pressure, is what seems to be driving Turkey’s ongoing gas dispute with Tehran.
Turkey currently obtains 24.3 percent of its natural gas supplies from Iran, its largest single supplier after Russia. When a 25-year supply agreement between the two countries was signed in 1996, Iran, a neighboring state with 29.61 trillion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves, seemed an ideal export partner for Turkey. Ankara even agreed to a “take or pay” condition that required it to pay Iran for a predetermined amount of gas every year, even if Turkey did not use it.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.