Pentagon Explores Option to Export Northern Iraqi Oil via Israel

(Beirut Daily Star) Iason Athanasiadis - More sabotage strikes in recent weeks on Iraq's Kirkuk-Yumurtalik oil pipeline are prompting the U.S.-led coalition authority to examine the possibility of reopening the long-defunct Kirkuk-Haifa export route. The pipeline has not functioned for 55 years, following sabotage attacks by Palestinian nationalists in the 1930s and the subsequent creation of Israel. The 20.3-centimeter diameter pipeline would be replaced with a 106.6-centimeter diameter line at an estimated cost of between $0.5 billion and $1.5 billion. One former CIA official said: "It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United States." However, "The State Department shot the plan down," said Middle East Economic Survey editor Walid Khadduri. "And it doesn't make economic sense to do it because the pipeline goes through Fellujah and Ramadi (centers of resistance to the US occupation)." The Turkish port of Ceyhan is the current destination point for northern Iraqi oil. The Turkish government has made it clear to Israel that it will interpret any moves to divert Iraqi oil through Haifa as a mortal blow to bilateral relations. The last effort to revive the route was initiated by current U.S. Defense Secretary and then-adviser to President Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, in the mid-1980s.

2003-11-14 00:00:00

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