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 Geithner Gets China Snub on Iran Oil as Japan Discusses Cut

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PostSubject: Geithner Gets China Snub on Iran Oil as Japan Discusses Cut    Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:20 pm

Geithner Gets China Snub on Iran Oil as Japan Discusses Cut


By wmw_admin on January 15, 2012




Toru Fujioka and Aki Ito – Business Week January 14, 2012



U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s efforts to tighten
economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program won backing from
Japan a day after China rejected limiting oil imports from the country.



“We want to take concrete steps to reduce our share in an orderly
way as soon as possible,” Finance Minister Jun Azumi said at a joint
press conference in Tokyo today with his U.S. counterpart. “The world
cannot tolerate nuclear development.”



Geithner’s meetings were part of a trip to Asia’s two largest
economies aimed at building support for tighter Iranian economic
sanctions after international monitors detected an acceleration in the
nation’s nuclear development program. China, which counts Iran as one of
its top petroleum suppliers, yesterday snubbed the U.S., with a vice
foreign minister saying his nation “opposes imposing pressure and
sanctions.”



Crude for February delivery climbed 49 cents, or 0.5 percent, to
$101.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile
Exchange as of 5:00 p.m. Tokyo time.



JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., Japan’s biggest refiner, is in
talks with Saudi Arabia and other producers to replace crude shipments
in the event of an embargo, according to an official who declined to be
identified, citing company policy. JX buys about 90,000 barrels of
Iranian oil a day, the official said.



Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government
hasn’t made a final decision on cutting Iranian imports, and that
Azumi’s pledge “is just one of several opinions.” Azumi later said he is
seeking ways to make sure sanctions on Iran don’t hurt the Japanese
economy.



‘Halfway Solution’



“Japan will try and seek a halfway solution where they’ll try and
limit imports from Iran and boost imports from other Middle Eastern
countries that are also U.S. allies,” said Razeen Sally, a professor at
the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of
Singapore. Given its military alliance with the U.S., Japan “is much
more susceptible to U.S. pressure than China,” he said.



The U.S. will send officials to Japan next week to discuss how the
Japanese government will implement its plans, NHK Television quoted
Geithner as saying in an interview. “We share a sense of urgency,” he
told NHK.



Asked about China, Geithner told NHK: “They have been actually very
cooperative with the international community with this common objective
because of course they share our interests in trying to make sure Iran
is compliant with its international obligations.”



‘Quite Supportive’



“They actually have been quite supportive in tangible ways,”
Geithner said. “I heard additional evidence of their intentions on that
when I was there.”



The Obama administration’s “basic objective is to assure that China
is more fully integrated into the global economy and financial system,”
he said. The yuan’s exchange rate, which the U.S. claims is undervalued,
is “just one part” of a broader agenda Chinese leaders are pursuing, he
said.



On the International Monetary Fund’s role in helping resolve the
European debt crisis, Geithner said, “I think you’ll see the world
willing to see the IMF play a supportive role. It’s done so already and
it’s what the IMF exists to do. But it can only be effective in that
context in support of a stronger European commitment to make sure they
have in place a monetary union that can work.”



Total Purchases



Japan, the world’s second biggest importer of Iran’s crude after
China, bought 1.09 million kiloliters, or about 6.85 million barrels, in
November, or 6.4 percent of the country’s total purchases for the
month, according to trade ministry data.



“Any price spike would lead to a worsening of Japan’s trade terms,”
said Azusa Kato, an economist at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. “If the price
increase gets passed on to consumers, that diminishes their disposable
income; if it doesn’t get passed on to consumers then it hurts corporate
earnings.”



European Union foreign ministers are scheduled to decide at a Jan.
23 meeting in Brussels whether to impose and how to phase in an embargo
on Iranian oil, which is designed to force Iran back to the negotiating
table over its nuclear program.



Iran has begun enriching uranium to as much as 20 percent U-235 at
the underground Fordo site near the city of Qom, the International
Atomic Energy Agency said in a Jan. 9 announcement. The site is
monitored by IAEA inspectors to detect any attempt to enrich uranium to
the 90 percent level necessary for a nuclear bomb.



Strait of Hormuz



Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said Dec. 27 that his
nation would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if
sanctions are imposed, the Islamic Republic News Agency said. The Strait
is a transit point for one-fifth of oil traded worldwide.



Refiners in Asia, the destination for 65 percent of Iran’s oil
exports, are seeking alternative sources in the event of a supply
disruption from the world’s fourth-largest producer.



Even as China rebuffed American pressure, Premier Wen Jiabao is
planning a trip to alternative oil providers. Wen will visit Saudi
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19 and
attend an international meeting on energy, the foreign ministry said two
days ago.



“Iran is one of China’s biggest petroleum suppliers,” Vice Foreign
Minister Zhai Jun told reporters in Beijing yesterday. “China hopes that
petroleum imports won’t be affected as petroleum is needed for China’s
development and for ensuring the needs of its people.”



Biggest Beneficiary



China stands to be the biggest beneficiary of U.S. and European
plans for sanctions by taking advantage of the mounting pressure to
demand better terms on Iranian crude, analysts said.



“The sanctions against Iran strengthen the Chinese hand at the
negotiating table,” said Michael Wittner, head of oil- market research
for Societe Generale SA in New York.



At the same time, the U.S. is bearing most of the cost of patrols
and surveillance in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 million
barrels a day of crude are transported. China, the No. 2 importer of oil
after the U.S., enjoys protection for the shipping lanes for free,
retired Admiral Dennis Blair, a former U.S. Director of National
Intelligence, said in an interview.



South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, announced Dec. 16 that
it would expand sanctions against Iran and cautioned companies against
importing petrochemicals. Crude oil shipments weren’t affected. The
country added 99 Iranian groups and six individuals to a list of people
and organizations banned from foreign-exchange transactions without
central bank approval.



Iran is South Korea’s fifth-largest supplier of crude, with a 9.4 percent share in 2011.



“Ten percent is not a small number — it is important to diversify”
toward other providers, Vice Finance Minister Shin Je Yoon said in a
Bloomberg Television interview today. South Korea is working with
counterparts abroad, and “it’s too early to say” what the specific
approach will be on Iran imports, he said


http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=41364

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