A senior energy expert says Israel has been using the American sanctions on Iran to delay payments to Tehran related to a decades-old dispute over an oil pipeline company.
Gholamhossein Hassantash told the ILNA news agency on Sunday that Israel has been withholding $1.1 billion plus interest in compensations related to its confiscation of a joint company with Iran that had been set up before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In a June 2016 ruling, the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which is Switzerland’s highest court, rejected Israel’s appeal on the case of Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC), a venture set up in 1968 which had been meant to allow Iran to transfer crude from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
Israel has also been ordered to pay nearly half a million dollars in court costs and legal fees.
However, Hassantash said that Israelis have been delaying the payments citing unilateral sanctions imposed by the US on Iran.
Foreign Minister Bijan Zangeneh has reiterated that the cargo of oil tankers reportedly seized by the United States last week was not Iranian.
He said the Swiss court declared after the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal, known as JCPOA, in 2016 that Israel faces no restrictions to compensate Iran over the case.
“Israelis have been trying to delay payments to Iran as long as possible,” said Hassantash, adding, “With US leaving the JCPOA resulting in the international banking sanctions, the Israelis seem to have found a pretext.”
Hassantash did not rule out that Iran might take action to force Israel to comply with the Swiss court ruling. That comes as Tehran has been tough on states and entities that are in debt to the country over deals that predate the 1979 revolution.
“I’m not aware of what the next step would be or what action one could take,” said Hassantash.