WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The United States said on Thursday it had renewed a waiver for Iraq to import Iranian electricity, this time for 60 days to enable Baghdad to take "meaningful actions” to reduce its energy dependence on neighboring Tehran.
The waiver will continue to exempt Iraq from U.S. sanctions reimposed on Iran, after President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
Washington has repeatedly extended the waiver for Baghdad to use crucial Iranian energy supplies for its struggling power grid, usually for periods of 90 or 120 days.
"The waiver ensures that Iraq is able to meet its short-term energy needs while it takes steps to reduce its dependence on Iranian energy imports,” a U.S. State Department official claimed.
"We believe it is possible within the 60 days for the government of Iraq to take meaningful actions to promote energy self-sufficiency...,” he added.
Gas imports from Iran generate as much as 45 percent of Iraq’s 14,000 megawatts of electricity consumed daily. Iran transmits another 1,000 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor.
Iraq and Iran share a 1,400-kilometer-long border. For their run-of-the-mill maintenance, Iraqis depend on Iranian companies for many things from food to machinery, electricity, natural gas, fruits and vegetables.
The United States has insisted that oil-rich Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, move towards self-sufficiency as a condition for its exemption for importing Iranian energy. However, Iraqi officials have said the country needs several years to achieve it.