Iran General NewsUS bill would bar firms selling gasoline to Iran

US bill would bar firms selling gasoline to Iran

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ImageReuters: Foreign companies that sell refined petroleum products like gasoline to Iran would be barred from doing business in the United States, under a bill introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

By Tom Doggett

ImageWASHINGTON, May 1 (Reuters) – Foreign companies that sell refined petroleum products like gasoline to Iran would be barred from doing business in the United States, under a bill introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Companies would face the same fate if they provided goods or services that allowed Iran to maintain or expand its domestic production of gasoline, said Representative Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the bill's main sponsor.

Under the bill, a violating foreign oil company would be prevented from owning retail gasoline stations in the United States or delivering crude oil to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The legislation is designed to help prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. government fears that is the purpose of the nuclear program Tehran insists is intended for generating electricity.

Similar legislation has also been introduced in the House and Senate.

Berman said his bill "could have a powerfully negative impact on the Iranian economy, rendering it more difficult for the Iranian government to continue to fund a nuclear program that the international community has repeatedly called upon it to suspend."

He said he was not trying to punish the Iranian people, but hoped to persuade their government to end its nuclear program.

Berman said he supports the Obama administration's strategy of direct diplomatic engagement with Iran to try to stop the nuclear program, but if that does not work he said Congress must impose additional sanctions, like those in his bill, that "could truly cripple the Iranian economy."

As a U.S. senator last June, Obama said the United States should work with other countries to isolate Iran's government.

Though Iran holds some of the world's biggest crude oil reserves, it imports 40 percent of its gasoline to meet growing domestic demand. Expensive government subsidies help keep gasoline in Iran much cheaper than elsewhere.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by David Gregorio)

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