Iran's culture minister questioned in Parliament over Crescent deal media ban

Iran's culture minister questioned in Parliament over Crescent deal media ban

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 9

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati has been questioned June 9 in the parliament over imposed ban on media for publishing information about the disputed Crescent deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Jannati was questioned by hardliner MP Masoud Mirkazemi over ban of media from publishing any interview about the Crescent deal, Iran 's official IRNA news agency reported June 9.

The UAE-based energy firm Dana Gas said last August that an international tribunal had issued a favorable ruling in the dispute over a natural gas supply contract between its affiliate Crescent Petroleum and Iran.

The tribunal ruled a 25-year contract for National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) to supply gas to Crescent was valid and binding on both parties, and that NIOC has been obligated to deliver gas since December 2005.

NIOC and Crescent signed the contract in 2001, with the price linked to oil. Based on the contract, Iran was supposed to export unrefined natural gas from Salman gas field to the United Arab Emirates. However deliveries were delayed as oil prices rose and some officials and politicians in Iran called for a revision to the gas pricing formula.

Iranian conservatives repeatedly called the contract shameful, saying the price agreed on in the contract was 14 times below the market price.

Addressing the MPs Jannati said that the ban for publishing information about the deal is imposed by the country's National Security Council (SNSC).

Based on approval of the SNSC, which was announced two years ago Iranian authorities and officials as well as media are banned from making any comment on the Crescent deal, Jannati said.
He further said that the council believes that the case should be pursued out of clamoring under its routine process.

At the end of the parliament session some 116 out of the 204 lawmakers present in parliament said in a vote that they were not convinced by Jannati's explanations.

It is the second time that Jannati has received official warning from the parliament, and the minister maybe impeached if another question is submitted by the MPs.

Edited by CN

Follow the author on Twitter: @UmidNiayesh

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