Iran General NewsUS Energy Secretary worried by Italy-Iran business relation

US Energy Secretary worried by Italy-Iran business relation

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Dow Jones: U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman Tuesday expressed concern over Italy’s continued business relations with Iran, saying he hoped Italy would support sanctions against the country. Dow Jones Newswires

ROME -(Dow Jones)- U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman Tuesday expressed concern over Italy’s continued business relations with Iran, saying he hoped Italy would support sanctions against the country.

However, he said relations between Italy and the U.S. would remain sound whatever the outcome of international efforts to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

“Even though we’d be concerned by commercial relations between Italy and Iran, we will remain friends whatever the outcome,” Bodman told a press conference after meeting with Italian Industry Minister Pierluigi Bersani.

Bodman and Bersani signed an agreement between the U.S. and Italy on research and development in nuclear power and clean coal technology. The Italian government opposes the reintroduction of nuclear power, banned after a 1987 referendum rejected it, but has accepted Italian participation into nuclear research.

Italian oil and gas giant Eni SpA (E) is well-positioned to benefit from its presence in Iran, should tension between the international community and the Middle East country ease, Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said at the World Energy Congress Tuesday. He called Iran the “Eldorado” of oil and gas markets.

In September, one of Italy’s biggest energy companies, Edison SpA (EDN.MI), signed with Iran a memorandum of understanding on a feasibility study to develop part of the South Pars natural gas field and the possible construction of a liquefied natural gas plant.

However, Eni’s Scaroni Tuesday said the company would respect any eventual sanctions imposed by the U.N. on Iran.

With the help of some European leaders, U.S. President George Bush would like the U.N. Security Council to impose a new round of economic sanctions to discourage what they allege is Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions. But the U.S.-led campaign has stalled due to resistance from Russia and China.

The U.S. largely stopped investing in Iran’s energy industry in the 1990s, following sanctions imposed during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Europe subsequently stepped in to fill the void, with state-controlled oil firms providing capital and energy technology.

Intended to pressure Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program, the U.S. last month imposed new sanctions including on a raft of petroleum, construction and engineering companies responsible for major oil and gas projects in Iran.

-By Luca Di Leo, Dow Jones Newswires

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