The Iranian ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Saeed Koozechi, has blamed sanctions imposed on his country by the UN, U.S. and EU for the low trade between Iran and Nigeria.
Speaking at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum on Wednesday in Abuja, Koozechi said the sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme had a crippling effect on Iran-related businesses in Nigeria.
Koozechi said banks in Iran and Nigeria could not effectively conduct transactions due to restrictions on SWIFT, a financial-messaging service for most cross- border money transfers.
He said Iranian businesses had resorted to using companies in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey to bring in their products to Nigeria.
“Some Iranian products come to Nigeria from Dubai; we export from the companies in the emirates and Turkey, but these are actually Iranian products,’’ he said.
The ambassador, who put annual trade between Nigeria and Iran at 50 million dollars, described the volume of trade as low considering the size of both economies.
“We can easily increase this amount to 500 million dollars because of the size of the economies of both countries.
“Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and it has a huge population and for Iran this means that there is a huge opportunity and capacity for economic cooperation.
“Despite this huge capacity for cooperation, bilateral trade between Iran and Nigeria is low and this is not acceptable.’’
The envoy identified the negative portrayal of Iran by the Western media as another impediment to international trade with foreign nations.
“After the Iranian revolution, the Western media has tried to create `a bad-face’ about Iran.
“They brand Iran as a place where extremism thrives but anybody who visits my country normally says `I am sorry about what I wrongly thought about your country.’’
Koozechi countered accusations that his country’s nuclear programme was about atomic bomb as alleged by the U.S. and the European allies.
“Iranian nuclear issue is a completely peaceful programme and this is well known.
“We have had more than 7,000 hour visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts to Iranian nuclear sites and they have not found anything that links our nuclear activities to atomic bomb.
“This is a technical issue and it is within the framework of the IAEA but some of the Western countries try to make it a political issue.
“The main aim of the Iranian nuclear issue is to create power (electricity) and we have one nuclear site in Tehran that produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity,’’ he said.
The envoy said the Iranian Government had plans to establish 20 nuclear power plants, but he did not provide a timeline for the project.
He added that in 2013, the Middle East country produced 10 billion kilowatts of electricity from its nuclear power plant, which saved the country 1 billion dollars.
“With this we are able to save the Iranian economy 70 million barrels of crude oil and some big powers think that this level of technology should be available for a few countries?
“We are using our nuclear programme to improve the power, health and agriculture sectors in the country,’’ he said.
Koozechi said Iranian companies were willing to offer Nigeria their expertise in using nuclear technology to boost electricity supply in the country.
He said Iran also had invaluable experience in constructing power plants and transmission lines for electricity supply.
He invited Nigeria to participate in an international exhibition on power scheduled to hold in Tehran, in November.
“The power sector is very important and it is the blood for the economy, without electricity it is impossible to create any investment or job,’’ he said.
By Edos News