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How Turkey, Russia Benefit From Iran Sanctions

Denise Natali writes that US-led international sanctions on Iran will strengthen Turkish-Russian energy cooperation.
An attendant holds a gas pump at a Rosneft petrol station in St.Petersburg October 23, 2012. Russian oil company Rosneft tightened its grip on Russia's oil industry on Monday with a $55 billion deal to buy TNK-BP that also makes Britain's BP a one-fifth shareholder in the state-controlled company.  REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk (RUSSIA - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY)

Tougher US sanctions against Iran, recently approved by the US Senate, are expected to create new obstacles to Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program by expanding the list of embargoed items and companies trading in energy and related industries. While crippling the country’s economy, the sanctions also have had unintended consequences on energy-dependent regional states, particularly Turkey, which has circumvented the embargo and turned to Russia for alternative energy supplies. These reactions not only reinforce Ankara’s foreign-policy independence and Moscow’s energy dominance, but they highlight the growing tensions between US policy objectives and regional energy and security interests.

Indeed, more than three decades of international sanctions, alongside Iranian mismanagement, have weakened Tehran’s oil-based economy and potential regime capabilities. From a pre-1979 revolutionary level of five million barrels per day (bpd), Iranian oil exports have declined over the past year, from about two million to less than one million bpd. During this period, the country also incurred about $60 billion worth of losses in energy-sector investment (1979-2011), $32 billion in lost revenues since early 2012, rising food prices, a currency that has been devalued by more than 60% and exclusion from the world banking system.

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