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Europe: No Decision On Gas Deal Sanctions

Washington, 7 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - The State Department says the United States has not made a decision on whether to impose economic sanctions on the European, Russian and Asian investors in an Iranian natural gas deal.

Spokesman James Rubin told reporters yesterday that Washington continues to investigate the transaction. The threat of unilateral U.S. sanctions has brought protests and warnings against interference from the European Union and the French Government.

A French oil firm, Total, is a partner with Russia's Gazprom and Petronas of Malaysia in a $2 billion project to develop an offshore Iranian gas field. A U.S. law passed two years ago gives the U.S. president power to impose sanctions on foreign firms that make investments in Iran's, or Libya's, energy sectors. The U.S. says those two countries sponsor international terrorism.

The U.S. is scheduled to have talks with the European Union over the issue on Wednesday. Rubin says Washington's European allies share its concerns about Iran, but he says there are "important differences" over how best to advance the goal of putting pressure on Iran and Libya.