The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, allegedly told U.S. diplomats that oil giant Chevron has been in talks with Tehran about developing a cross-border oilfield with Iraq, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.
Dow Jones reports that the cable, sent by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, summarizes a conversation between the U.S. diplomats and the Iraqi premier in March 2009.
The communication says that al-Maliki asked the U.S. charge d'affaires whether a U.S. company would legally be able to operate a field that straddles both sides of the Iraq-Iran border. The U.S. diplomat said that U.S. law on sanctions would forbid it, according to the cable.
The Iraqi leader said that he would prefer to have Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company after ExxonMobil, work the field, but if U.S. rules prevented it, he would deal with a non-U.S. company, the cable said.
Iran is subject to strict U.S. trade sanctions because of concerns in Washington about Iranian nuclear policy. The U.S. has pushed several international oil companies, such as France's Total and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, to reduce their involvement in Iran, a major oil producer and a founding member of OPEC.
"Chevron acts in full compliance with U.S. law," a Chevron spokesman wrote in an email. "We have not engaged in business discussions with Iran that are, or could potentially be, in violation of U.S. law. We categorically deny any suggestion to the contrary."
(Sources: Dow Jones, The Guardian)