Friday, February 10, 2012

Malaysia bows to US's anti-Iran campaign by stopping palm oil

Feb 9: Local palm oil suppliers have been forced to stop dealing with Iran, halting a big chunk of the 30,000 tonnes of the food staple that the Islamic republic buys each month, according to a report.

The halt is linked to the US-led sanctions on Iran over allegations that it was trying to build nuclear weapons, a claim Iran has consistently denied. Instead, the country had said that its nuclear project was to generate cheaper electricity locally so that the bulk of its oil could be exported for better profits.

Several major trade partners such as China, India and Turkey have however stated their opposition against the US-inspired sanctions.

According to the Reuters report, Iranian palm oil buyers now found it hard to use letters of credit and pay via middlemen in the United Arab Emirates to exporters in Malaysia, which is the world's second largest palm oil producer after Indonesia.

"Most of the companies selling palm oil to Iran have stopped since the end of last year," the report quoted a trader, who said that palm oil shippers were not willing to risk sending the cargoes to Iran.

Prior to this, local palm oil firms supplied directly to Iran or shipped their produce via Dubai in UAE, which mainly re-exports goods to Iran.

In 2010, Najib (left) ended a meeting with US president Barack Obama by agreeing with Washington's campaign to isolate Iran, and expressed Malaysia's readiness to cooperate with the US in Afghanistan through the training of police and military personnel.

The remarks drew a sharp response from Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who criticised Najib's stance on Iran while being silent on Israel which has the Middle East's largest nuclear arsenal.

"It is acceptable to state that Iran should not use nuclear arms, but having said that, what about Israel? Why Najib did not have the courage to criticise Israel and went on bended knees by speaking out against Iran in the White House?" Anwar had asked.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also warned against any move by Najib's administration to join the US's anti-Iran campaign.

"Iran is not Malaysia's enemy and Iran has never interfered our internal policies and activities," Mahathir wrote in his blog in April 2010.


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