(ANTIMEDIA) — In the over two decades that an American-installed puppet ruled over Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran and Israel maintained friendly ties. In 1968, the two countries set up a joint venture known as the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. (EAPC) to transport Iranian oil to the Mediterranean, primarily after Egypt blocked the Suez Canal. This move hindered Iranian oil exports at the time. Iran was already supplying Israel with the bulk of its oil prior to the formation of EAPC but did so secretly to avoid tension with the Arab world.
For about a decade, the pipeline carried Iranian oil from the Red Sea for export to Europe. Following the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, the Iranian leadership has been demanding their share of revenue and assets that remained in Israel, no longer a country recognized by the Islamic Republic.
According to Business Insider, no one knows how much profit the EAPC has made or how much it is worth because it is protected in a similar way to Israel’s intelligence agencies through the use of gag orders. The source of its oil, while suspected to be mainly from former Soviet states, is also protected by the gag orders. Even Business Insider’s report states that the article had to pass through the military censor prior to publishing. However, we do know that the EAPC has reportedly become the largest distributor of oil in Israel with ambitions to become a major hub in the Mediterranean.
In 1994, Iran began pursuing an arbitration case against Israel, first in France and then in Switzerland. In 2016, the Swiss court handling the matter determined that the Israeli government owed Iran $260,000 for oil sent to Israel prior to the fall of the Shah in 1979 as part of a wider $1.2 billion owed to Iran (plus interest). Israel was also required to pay Iran’s legal fees of $208,000. Israel denied it was required to send money to an “enemy country,” but given that sanctions against Iran were supposed to have been lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, the Swiss Court also ruled there were no legal obstacles preventing Israel from sending payment to Iran.
Now, the EAPC will continue to operate secretly following an Israeli parliamentary committee ruling at the end of December. It is now known as the Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC-B), a company owned by the Israeli government. The gag order protecting the pipeline has been extended five more years, and breaches of the gag order can incur a 15-year jail sentence.
“Nafeez Ahmed is a freelance journalist who self-published blog posts on our environment blogging network for just over a year as a regular contributor. He has never been on the staff of the Guardian. His Guardian blog – Earth Insight – was about the link between the environment and geopolitics, but we took the decision to end the blog when a number of his posts on a range of subjects strayed too far from this brief.”