Turkey playing “Obama for a fool”: trades gold for oil to circumvent Iran sanctions

Turkey has exchanged nearly 60 tons of gold for several million tons of Iranian crude oil, despite its promises to uphold Western sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, according to recent Turkish reports.

By using gold instead of money, Turkey is able to skirt Western sanctions on Iran’s oil trade, particularly those pertaining to SWIFT, the global money transfer service that until recently assisted the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian financial institutions.

Over the past several months, Turkey has given Iran 60 tons of gold, or more than $3 billion, according to a July 8 report on the Turkish news site Vatan Online. The report was translated by the Open Source Center, a translation service used by the CIA.

The exchanges raise questions about the Obama administration’s decision to grant Turkey a temporary waiver exempting it from U.S. sanctions to Iran, according to foreign policy experts and those on Capitol Hill who speculated that the revelation could spur Congress to pass a new round of Iran sanctions to prevent such trades.


“The idea that Turkey needs a waiver for more time to disconnect itself from the Iran oil trade is ludicrous,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. “Turkey is playing Obama for a fool.”

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Photo credit: BullionVault