Israel, Turkey clash over access to Iraqi oil

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Israel and Turkey are engaged in a dispute over a U.S. proposal to restore the operation of a pipeline that would transport oil from northern Iraq.

Western diplomatic sources said the dispute stems from a proposal by the United States that the oil from the Kirkuk fields flow through a pipeline from Mosul to the northern Israeli city of Haifa. The Mosul-Haifa pipeline was employed until 1948 when Israel declared independence.

Ankara has objected to the U.S. proposal and wants oil from Kirkuk to flow through a pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. However, the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has been repeatedly damaged by sabotage attacks from suspected Sunni insurgents loyal to deposed President Saddam Hussein, Middle East Newsline reported.

The sources said the U.S. Defense Department has asked Israel to provide a feasibility study for the restoration of the Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline to full operations. An Israeli government estimate places the cost of such a project at $400,000 per kilometer. The pipeline is more than 700 kilometers long.

Turkey has sent Israel a message that urged the Jewish state to reject the U.S. proposal. The sources said Ankara has warned that the revival of the Mosul-Haifa pipeline could threaten relations between Israel and Turkey.

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