Press TV -- The US and its allies fear that a recent gas deal between Iran and Switzerland may encourage other gas deals between Tehran and Europe.
"The worry is that the Swiss deal will lead others, such as the Austrians, to confirm energy investments in Iran, and that companies like [France's] Total could then follow suit and sign contracts of their own," an unnamed western diplomat told Financial Times.
Despite US pressure for tougher sanctions against Iran, Tehran and Bern signed a 25-year supply agreement in March, worth up to $42 billion.
"There is a lot of attention on sanctions on Iranian banks, but investment in the energy sector is much more important for Iran's economy," he added.
Washington and its allies are concerned that new energy agreements between Iran and European companies may further lessen the effect of sanctions against Tehran as Asian firms have long defied the US and signed such deals.
Flynt Leverett, a former US National Security Council adviser on Middle Eastern issues, said Sinopec of China and SKS of Malaysia had concluded deals with Tehran even after sanctions forced US companies to stop signing supply contracts with Iran.
Despite UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's rhetoric to broaden sanctions over Iran's nuclear program 'to include investment in liquefied natural gas', the newspaper says no such sanctions are on the agenda of the UN nor the EU.
European diplomats also conceded the possibility of a EU agreement on sanctions on Iran's energy sector in the immediate future to be very low.
It seems even US threats to impose punitive measures on firms investing above $20 million in Iran's energy sector, would not dissuade energy majors from investing in Iran, which holds the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia.
Leverett said Washington has limited options. "The EU would effectively take us to court [at the World Trade Organization] and the US would probably lose."
Meanwhile, senior Iranian oil official Hojjatollah Ghanimifard maintains that Tehran has a right to satisfy the energy need of consumers. "Would it be wise to deprive the common people living in consuming countries from Iranian supplies?"
... Payvand News - 05/03/08 ... --