According to Press TV, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday “The waiver ensures that Iraq is able to meet its short-term energy needs while it takes steps to reduce its dependence on Iranian energy imports.”
“We engage regularly with the Iraqi government to support measures that improve Iraq’s energy independence,” he added.
This will be the fifth such waiver the US has issued for Iraq since US sanctions on Iran’s energy exports snapped back nearly a year ago. After an initial 45-day waiver, the State Department issued two 90-day waivers in a row followed by a 120-day waiver in June.
Gas imports from Iran generate as much as 45 percent of Iraq’s 14,000 megawatts of electricity consumed daily. Iran transmits another 1,000 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor.
Iraq and Iran share a 1,400-kilometer-long border. For their run-of-the-mill maintenance, Iraqis depend on Iranian companies for many things from food to machinery, electricity, natural gas, fruits and vegetables.
The administration of Donald Trump is pressing Iraq to stop buying natural gas and electricity from Iran or at least show signs that it is reducing the imports. The US has also urged Iraq to establish contracts with US companies.
However, there are reports that Baghdad is pushing back against the pressure, The New York Times reported in February.
Trump re-imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran’s energy and finance sectors in November last year following his decision to withdraw from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Tehran and the 5+1 group.