"Total’s Quit is Moral Support to US’s Sanctions on Iran" – American Expert
Azerbaijan, Baku, 18 July / Trend corr. A.Badalova/ French Total oil company's retreat from Iran is France's moral support to the United States to exert pressure upon Iran, Ethan Chorin, Senior Fellow in the Middle East Program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said.
"Total's retreat from Iran is symbolically significant, in that it completes the official withdrawal of Western European oil companies, and lends moral support to U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran into abandoning uranium enrichment," Chorin said to Trend via e-mail on 18 July.
On 17 July, Total's official said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Paris that the company had suspended operation in Iran just for a while and the country still remains a strategically important one for Total. The key reason for quitting Iran's South Pars Total attributed to unstable geopolitical situation in the region, which prevents the company from investing in the country. The English-Dutch RD/Shell and Spanish Repsol withdrew from Phase 13 earlier because of the same reasons.
"Overall, I would say that existing sanctions are having a serious cumulative effect, which should not be underestimated," said Chorin.
United States is still endeavouring to toughen economic and financial sanctions on Iran. US Congress's Senate Committee on banks, housing construction and town problems approved a Bill envisaging punishing measures for the countries which are supposed to supply technologies and goods to Iran in defiance of United States' rules. Committee initiated to include Central Bank of Iran in the group of establishments supporting terrorism. According to The Financial Times, French and UK Embassies in Tehran rapidly reduced operation of their trade departments due to descending trade operations with the country. UK almost suspended operation of its trade department.
According to Chorin, from an immediate, practical standpoint, the move is somewhat less significant, as the full effect of lost technology and capital will be felt several years from now, and the current environment is changeable. Further, at the end of the day there will be no shortage of competition to replace these contracts.
A few days after Total's announcement, Russia's Gazprom signed an expansive MOU covering oil and gas production and transport; a number of Arab Gulf States have recently signed agreements both to purchase and develop Iranian gas.
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