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Japan keeps strong oil ties with Iran

July 8, 2013 at 6:41 AM

TABRIZ, Iran, July 8 (UPI) -- The Japanese economy continues to rely on Iranian oil imports despite sanctions imposed by Western governments, a Japanese envoy said in Iran.

Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Koji Haneda stressed the importance of bilateral trade with Iran during an investment conference Sunday in Tabriz, the fourth-largest city in Iran.

He said Japan still relies heavily on imports of Iranian oil despite Western pressure on the Iranian government, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported.

Japan last year established a new insurance mechanism to facilitate the delivery of Iranian crude oil to circumvent European sanctions targeting maritime shipments. In May, Japan doubled the amount of crude oil it imports from Iran to more than 220,000 barrels per day, the Platts energy news website reported.

Platts reported the May level followed a substantial drop in April imports because of shipping logistics.

Overall, however, Iranian crude oil deliveries to Japan are down as a result of a U.S. State Department decision in April to extend a sanctions waiver to Tokyo for cutting back on its energy ties to Iran.

Sanctions are meant to deny Iran revenue it could use to finance its controversial nuclear program, which the Iranian government says is for peaceful purposes and the United States and others maintain is to develop nuclear weapons.

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