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Iraq says Kurdish oil export to Turkey 'smuggling'

Oil exports from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region to Turkey will be considered an act of smuggling, a senior Iraqi official has said, threatening legal action against Turkey and the Kurdish administration. Hussein al-Shahristani, the deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said export of oil to Turkey from the Kurdish-controlled north is banned under Iraqi law, the Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday. He was speaking as he received a delegation of Transparency International in Baghdad.

“It will be considered smuggling, and the parties [involved in the trade] will face legal sanctions,” he was quoted as saying by Anatolia.

Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are at odds over oil exports from northern Iraq. Baghdad says it alone has the authority to control exports and sign contracts and insists that contracts signed by the KRG are illegal. Baghdad has threatened action against the KRG and foreign oil companies working in northern Iraq if they don't stop the exports.

The KRG, on the other hand, says it has the right to control exports and sign contracts with foreign companies under Iraq's federal constitution. The KRG started exporting small volumes of crude oil by truck to Turkey early this year after exports via the Baghdad-controlled Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline dried up in December due to a payment row between the KRG and the Baghdad government.

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