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Sunday, 17 November 2019

Iran says Chinese state oil firm withdraws from $5B deal

AP , Sunday 6 Oct 2019
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 China's state oil company has pulled out of a $5 billion deal to develop a portion of Iran's massive offshore natural gas field, the Islamic Republic's oil minister said Sunday, an agreement from which France's Total SA earlier withdrew over U.S. sanctions.

The South Pars field deal, struck in the wake of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, appears to be just the latest business casualty of America's pressure campaign on Tehran following President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the deal.

It also comes as China and the U.S. engage in their own trade war, as Beijing and Washington levy billions of dollars of tariffs on each other's goods.

Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, quoted by the ministry's SHANA news agency, said Sunday that the China National Petroleum Corp. was ``no longer in the project.'' He did not elaborate or give any reason for the withdrawal.

Officials in Beijing didn't immediately acknowledge their decision. However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif separately complained Sunday about the U.S. campaign against Tehran and its impact on foreign investments.

``We have been facing plenty of problems in the field of investment because of the U.S. maximum pressure policy,'' Zarif told a parliamentary committee, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. ``We are trying to remove the problems.''

After withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Tehran over a year ago, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran that have kept it from selling its oil abroad and have crippled its economy. Iran has since begun breaking terms of the deal.

There have been a series of attacks across the Middle East that the U.S. blames on Iran. Tensions reached their height on Sept. 14, with a missile and drone attack on the world's largest oil processor in Saudi Arabia and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. While Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia says it was ``unquestionably sponsored by Iran.''

Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an ``all-out war.''

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