Press TV – May 4, 2009
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi has questioned the wisdom behind a US Congress initiative to choke off gasoline supplies to the oil-rich country.
Despite claims of seeking a new beginning with Iran, the US government has threatened the Tehran government with further unilateral sanctions should potential negotiations over the country's disputed nuclear program fail.
Congress is currently considering a bill, the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act, which has the backing of 25 senators and seeks to punish non-US firms for supplying gasoline to Iran -- which imports about 40 percent of its gasoline demand.
The legislation, which has the strong support of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), seeks to target five major European firms – the Swiss firm Vitol, the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura, the French firm Total, Switzerland's Glencore and British Petroleum – and the Indian firm Reliance, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
Iranian spokesman Qashqavi, meanwhile, blamed the Israeli lobby for pushing such legislation and noted that similar efforts had previously failed.
Co-author of the legislation Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says the bill could initially trigger anti-US protests in Iran but would eventually push the American agenda as the Iranians would realize, in his words, that "we can't eat nuclear weapons."
Qashqavi, however, dismissed such a scenario, saying, "Sanctions and threats will not intimidate us and especially not affect our national will in following our rights."
He added that "sanctions and threats are history" and are no longer effective.
Iran says its nuclear program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology. The US and Israel, however, accuse the country of seeking nuclear weaponry in its pursuit.
Unilateral US sanctions against Iran has effectively left the Iranian market -- the biggest in the Middle East -- to the benefit of foreign competitors.
The foreign firms, thus, have been targeted by numerous extraterritorial US sanctions that seek to punish trading with Iran.
The sponsors of the new bill have said that it would enhance the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) that sought to punish non-US firms investing more than $20 million in the Iranian oil sector.
This is while the backlash against the US attempts to dictate trade policies with Iran on other states already forced former Presidents Clinton and Bush to issue "waivers" for foreign firms investing in the oil-rich country.
The threats of new sanctions come at a time when the US fancies the prospects of rapprochement with Iran. The two states have had no diplomatic ties for nearly three decades.
Last updated 07/05/2009