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Cablegate: Turkmenistan/Iran: Now the Iranians Are Blaming

VZCZCXRO2332
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #0075 0151149
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151149Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0078
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3254
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1069
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0940
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 1517
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ASHGABAT 000075

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/CARC, EEB
PLEASE PASS TO USTDA DAN STEIN
ENERGY FOR EKIMOFF/THOMPSON
COMMERCE FOR HUEPER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EPET IR TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN/IRAN: NOW THE IRANIANS ARE BLAMING
THE U.S. FOR CUTTING OFF THE GAS?

REF: A. OSC IAP200801150022
B. ASHGABAT 0007

1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (U) As Turkmenistan's gas pipelines to Iran remain shut
off for the second week, both sides have dug in their heels
in the natural gas war that began just after the new year.
However, Iran continues to rachet up the stakes. According
to a January 15 report from Tehran's Mehr News Agency (ref
A), the Chairman of the Iranian Majles Energy Committee,
Kamal Daneshyar, stated that "Of course, American pressure
may also have influenced Turkmenistan in cutting off the
gas...but we believe that what lies behind the scenes of the
gas cut is that Turkmenistan wants to increase the price from
seven cents to 14 cents." Daneshyar reportedly also
indicated that the Iranian government will lodge a complaint
against Turkmenistan at the international arbitration court.

3. (SBU) The Petronas country manager in Turkmenistan,
Suleiman Abdullah, agrees with reftel analysis that
Turkmenistan has halted gas flows to northern Iran in a
hardball effort to force the Iranians to increase the price
they are paying for Turkmenistan's gas. Asking, "Have you
ever tried to negotiate with the Iranians?" Suleiman pointed
out that it is in Turkmenistan's interest to unify the price
that it is charging at the border for gas. Otherwise, he
suggested, the Iranians will continue to do what they have
been doing over the last several years: reselling the gas
they purchase from Turkmenistan for $65 per thousand cubic
meters for a much higher price at the Turkish border.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite the hardball tactics on both
sides, the two countries eventually will need to reach
agreement. By attributing Turkmenistan's decision to U.S.
pressure, even if only in a passing comment, Iran may be
trying to use whatever leverage it has, including implying
Turkmenistan's actions are inconsistent with its neutral
status. The negotiation's decibel level could continue to
rise before the two sides find common ground. END COMMENT.
HOAGLAND

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