Iran, Japan Reach Oil Agreement Despite US Opposition
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Japanese Trade Minister Takeo Hiranuma agreed Sunday that the two countries would join hands to realize a Japanese consortium's plan to develop Iran's Azadegan oil field as soon as possible, Japanese officials said, cited by Japan Today.
In talks with Hiranuma, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, Khatami said Iran "welcomes cooperation by the Japanese government" for the plan to develop the world's biggest undeveloped oil deposit near the Iraqi border, the officials said.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the two parties were close to finalize the deal, shrugging off US efforts to stop allies from making major energy deals with a nation it accuses of sponsoring terrorism.
In a letter of intent signed with Iran Sunday, Japan agreed to spend $10 million to help fund a seismic study of the Azadegan oil field, which contains an estimated 26 billion barrels of oil. The two countries also signed an energy cooperation agreement, according to the agency.
"Japan is not affected by US pressure," Hiranuma told reporters during a signing ceremony in Tehran.
The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and has strongly discouraged investment in its energy sector.
The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which took effect in 1996, bars American companies from investing more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas industry and threatens to punish foreign companies that do so.
So far, Washington hasn't followed through on its threat, according to the AP, which added that the Japanese agreement was the second in two weeks by a US ally disregarding US opposition. Italy's ENI signed a $1 billion deal last week to develop Iran's Darkhovin onshore oil field – Albawaba.com
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