TOKYO, March 5 Japan made a second payment to
Iran for crude imports under an interim nuclear deal on
Wednesday, diplomatic sources told Reuters, as the West eases a
year-long stranglehold on revenues that has crippled the Iranian
Japan, which became the first of Iran's oil buyers to make a
payment to Iran last month, deposited $450 million in funds owed
for oil imported from Iran in a Central Bank of Iran (CBI)
account, according to the sources.
Tough international sanctions over the past two years cut
Iran's oil exports in half, while U.S. measures imposed a year
ago stopped the remaining importers of Iranian oil from
transferring cash to Tehran, starving Iran of hard currency and
forcing it to the negotiating table over its disputed nuclear
Under a Nov. 24 agreement with six major powers, Iran won
access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad by
eight money-transfer schedules through July if it carried out
its part of the deal to curb its nuclear programme.
Japan last month became the first of Iran's oil buyers to
make a payment for crude imports under the deal, sources told
Reuters, with one source confirming the amount of $550 million.
According to the agreement, the second and third payment
schedules were March 1 for $450 million and March 7 for $550
Tokyo's role in sending the first two funds may be a boon
for Japanese firms jostling for position with international
rivals to invest in Iran's oil and gas sector, should a further
agreement end Tehran's international isolation.
Iranian oil ministry news service Shana reported a senior
official as saying on Tuesday that India has deposited some of
the money owed for oil imported from Iran in a CBI account, but
government and industry sources in India denied the
Indian officials said late last month that they were ready
to pay $1.5 billion to clear part of a backlog of payments for
shipments of oil following the partial easing of sanctions.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Richard Pullin)