Japan near deal with US on Iran oil
Tokyo, March 5, 2012
Japan and the United States are close to an agreement on cuts in Japanese imports of Iranian oil that will allow Tokyo to avoid US sanctions, and may conclude a deal this month, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told Reuters on Monday.
But Gemba said the two sides might not make public the size of the cuts because of the possible impact on markets.
"We are in the final stage, but are still making final adjustments (to an agreement)," Gemba said in an interview.
"Certainly, we will reduce (the imports), but because the concrete figures would influence the market, I am thinking at this point that it would be better not to announce them."
Japan's government had previously said the country would likely be spared from the US sanctions, aimed at pushing Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and has cut its Iranian oil imports by 40 per cent over the past five years.
Japan's crude oil imports from Iran fell a sharp 22.5 per cent in January from a year earlier. Imports from Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, accounted for 8.8 per cent of Japan's total oil imports in 2011. – Reuters