Iraqi Transportation Minister Hadi al-Amari (pictured) said on Wednesday that neighbouring Kuwait must stop work on its Mubarak port project because it will block Iraqi access to shipping lanes, according to a report from AFP.
“The construction of this port ... demonstrates the clear intention of Kuwait to block shipping lanes from Iraqi ports and contradicts UN resolutions,” he told reporters, adding that it would “strangle” Iraq’s main export terminal in the southern city of Basra.
“We say we will not accept that Basra and Iraq be strangled in any way,” the minister said angrily.
Kuwait began work on the $1.1 billion port in May. The facility, on Kuwait’s Bubyan Island, is scheduled for completion in 2016.
“We feel it is necessary to stop work, especially since only 14 percent of the work has been completed; its location can be changed,” Amari said.
The Gulf is the main export outlet for Iraqi oil, and Baghdad has started serious work to modernise its outdated ports.
“We have the right to free traffic movement in the sea,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on state-run Iraqiya television.