New U.S. sanctions are severely damaging Turkey's gold-for-gas trade with Iran and have halted the Turkish state-owned lender Halkbank from processing other nations' energy payments to the Iran, bankers told Reuters' Asli Kandemir. U.S. officials sought to prevent Turkish gold exports, which indirectly pay Iran for its natural gas, from providing a financial lifeline to Tehran, restricted from the global banking system by Western sanctions over its nuclear program. Turkey, Iran's biggest natural gas customer, has been paying Iran for its imports with Turkish lira. Iranians then use the Turkish currency, held in Halkbank accounts, to purchase gold in Turkey. They then carry bullion worth millions of dollars in hand luggage to Dubai, where it is sold for foreign currency or shipped to Iran.
New U.S. Sanctions Hurting Turkey-Iran Gold Trade
UPDATED 2:07 AM EST, February 18, 2013