Iran Nuclear NewsJapan will end Iran oil project support if UN...

Japan will end Iran oil project support if UN imposes sanctions

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Bloomberg: Japan’s government said it will withdraw support for Inpex Holdings Inc.’s $2.5 billion Azadegan oil project if the United Nations imposes sanctions on Iran for refusing to curtail nuclear research. By Shigeru Sato

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s government said it will withdraw support for Inpex Holdings Inc.’s $2.5 billion Azadegan oil project if the United Nations imposes sanctions on Iran for refusing to curtail nuclear research.

“Generally speaking, we’ll comply with it if the UN takes such measures and if the sanctions are intended for Azadegan project,” Vice Trade Minister Takao Kitabata told reporters today in Tokyo.

Iran has threatened to revoke the contract signed in 2004 with Inpex, Japan’s largest oil and gas producer, if the company fails to start work on the project as promised. The dispute over Iran’s nuclear program has increased scrutiny on Japan’s involvement in Azadegan, the Middle East producer’s biggest oil discovery in 30 years.

The Middle Eastern nation ignored an Aug. 31 deadline set by the UN Security Council to freeze uranium enrichment or face the possibility of sanctions, prompting the U.S. to seek support for imposing penalties. The U.S., Japan’s closest ally, alleges the research is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, a claim Iran denies.

Inpex has asked Iran for a one-month extension of a Sept. 30 deadline to start development of the Middle East nation’s Azadegan oil field, FARS News Agency reported yesterday. Iran’s state oil company, which has rejected the request, and Inpex were continuing talks today, the Iranian news agency said on its Web site yesterday, citing unidentified people.

“The talks are underway,” Kitabata said without giving details of their progress.

Shuhei Miyamoto, spokesman for Inpex, declined to confirm or deny the one-month extension or any other details of the negotiations.

Inpex Holdings, which holds a 75 percent stake in Azadegan and is leading a group of companies in the project, has said it can’t develop the field until Iran removes landmines laid during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.

The production target for the Azadegan field is 260,000 barrels of oil a day, or 5 percent of Japan’s current consumption, by 2012.

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