Iran could be a “reliable, secure and long-term” supplier of gas to Europe, Agence France-Presse reported Tehran’s industry minister, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, as saying in an interview on Monday.
“We don’t want to compete with Russia. But we know that Europe’s demand for gas is increasing and would like a share in this,” Nematzadeh told the business daily Handelsblatt in an interview.
“We have the energy reserves and cooperation plans. But as far as Russia is concerned, that is a decision for Europe alone,” the minister said.
The statement seems to tap into the West’s anger against Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Europe and the United States expressed disdain after Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March with pro-Russian gunmen continuing to seize government buildings in the east European country.
Some analysts, including Thomas L. Friedman, advised the reduction of Europe’s reliance on Russian gas as a strategy to increase pressure on Vladmir Putin’s government.
Russia has the largest gas reserves, and is the largest exporter of natural gas, which mainly goes to Europe.
The gap between Iran and the West has narrowed recently with Iran making progress in negotiations with the P5+1 to reach a final deal regarding its nuclear program.
Despite the United States’ refusal to grant a visa to Iran’s pick for its U.N. ambassador, both Tehran and Washington said the issue will not impact the nuclear talks.
World powers negotiating a final deal with Iran want a reduction in the number of centrifuges Tehran is operating to curb concerns that the Islamic Republic may use its enrichment capabilities to build a nuclear weapon.
In return, the West will reduce sanctions imposed on Iran.
As Iran continues to make diplomatic progress, it is also showing defiance.
Iran’s nuclear chief raised concerns for the fate of the country’s only atomic power plant, for example.
Ali Akbar Salehi said the country needs 30,000 more centrifuges to enrich uranium and produce enough nuclear fuel to run the Bushehr power plant for a year, the Associated Press reported.
The plant was made with Russian help and has been online since 2011.
Salehi’s remarks were published on Monday by the government-run “Iran” newspaper.
By Al Arabia
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