Turkey says Iran buys gold to evade U.S. sanctions

Turkey's deputy minister said on Thursday that Iran has evaded U.S. economic sanctions in the last six months by using Turkish payments for energy to import gold, reports CNN.

"Why did, all of the sudden, Turkey's gold exports, especially gold bullion, go up?" Ali Babacan asked while speaking before a parliamentary budget commission this month. The official transcript of his statements was published by a Turkish government website Wednesday.

His statement came after reports that the U.S. Senate was working on a new package of Iran sanctions concerning goods including gold, which may become effective in December.

Turkey's energy minister, Taner Yildiz, told Reuters that he sees no conflict between Ankara and Washington over Obama’s administration plans to intensify trade sanctions against Iran, including the alleged Turkish-Iranian "gold for gas" trade.

Iran sells oil and gas to Turkey, with payments made to Iranian state institutions. The Western Asia country would be using those Turkish payments for gas to buy gold because of the sanctions.

Also on Thursday, economy minister Zafer Çağlayan said that any fresh U.S. move to cut the gold trade with Iran would not bother Turkey, as the nation is not a EU member and is only affected by multinational agreements, reported Reuters.

Turkey’s natural gas purchases from Iran, its second biggest supplier, are not subject of any current sanctions, international or unilateral.