DUBAI, July 2 Iran's National Security and
Foreign Policy Committee has drafted a bill calling for Iran to
try to stop oil tankers from shipping crude through the Strait
of Hormuz to countries that support sanctions against it, a
committee member said on Monday.
The Iranian parliament is vocal and sees itself as
independent but does not hold much power. Bills are unlikely to
get far unless sanctioned by the leadership.
"There is a bill prepared in the National Security and
Foreign Policy committee of Parliament that stresses the
blocking of oil tanker traffic carrying oil to countries that
have sanctioned Iran," Iranian MP Ibrahim Agha-Mohammadi was
quoted by Iran's parliamentary news agency as saying.
"This bill has been developed as an answer to the European
Union's oil sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Agha-Mohammadi said that 100 of Tehran's 290 members of
parliament had signed the bill as of Sunday.
However no details were given on how Iran would verify the
destination of every ship passing out of the Gulf under the
watchful eye of the U.S. Navy.
Iranian threats to block the waterway through which about 17
million barrels a day sailed in 2011 have grown in the past year
as U.S. and European sanctions aimed at starving Tehran of funds
for its nuclear programme have tightened.
A heavy western naval presence in the Gulf and surrounding
area is a big impediment to any attempt to block the vital
shipping route through which sails most of the crude exported
from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq and
nearly all the gas exported from Qatar.
A European Union ban on imports of Iranian oil started on
If the bill is approved by parliament it would then have to
be approved by the 12-member Council of Guardians, made up of
muslim clerics and lawyers selected by the supreme leader, which
can veto any bill.
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has already taken
precautionary steps against the possibility of Iran shutting
down Hormuz, including the reopening of an old pipeline built by
Iraq to bypass the strait and export more crude via the Red Sea
The United States has also sent four minesweepers to the
Gulf to bolster the U.S. Fifth Fleet after an Iranian military
chief refreshed threats of blocking Hormuz.
(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati and Daniel Fineren, editing by