| WASHINGTON, July 30
WASHINGTON, July 30 To pressure Tehran to give
up its nuclear program, the U.S. Senate has voted to ban
companies that sell gasoline and other refined oil products to
Iran from also receiving Energy Department contracts to deliver
crude to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Iran holds some of the world's biggest oil reserves, but it
imports 40 percent of its gasoline to meet growing demand. U.S.
lawmakers hope that by cutting off the country's motor fuel,
Tehran will abandon its nuclear program, which they fear could
be used to make weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program would be used for peaceful
purposes to generate electricity.
The Senate included language to go after Iran's gasoline
suppliers in an $34 billion energy and water spending bill that
the chamber approved late on Wednesday. The measure must now be
reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of
"Congress has embraced the idea of using Iran's economic
Achilles' Heel -- its heavy dependence on gasoline imports ...
to pressure the regime into giving up its illegal nuclear
weapons program," said Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director for
the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The U.S. emergency petroleum reserve was created by
Congress in the mid 1970s after the Arab oil embargo. The
stockpile is near capacity, holding some 724 million barrels of
crude at four underground storage sites in Texas and
However, the Energy Department previously has awarded
contracts to supply crude to the U.S. reserve to three of
Iran's gasoline suppliers: Vitol [VITOLV.UL], Royal Dutch Shell
Plc (RDSa.L) and Glencore.
Such companies would be barred from making similar oil
deliveries in the future, if Iran does not agree to negotiate
the end to its nuclear program by the time of the G-20 Summit
that will be held in September.
(Editing by Walter Bagley)