x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Iran threatens blacklist response to sanctions

Iran has threatened to blacklist companies that cut off petrol deliveries in response to western sanctions.

Iran has threatened to blacklist companies that cut off petrol deliveries in response to western sanctions. "If the suppliers of gasoline [petrol] avoid exporting it to Iran, they will be eliminated from the National Iranian Oil Company's list of suppliers," said the Iranian oil minister, Massoud Mirkazemi, according to the business daily Abrar-e Eqtesadi. "We have no worries in regards to the supply of gasoline, and we will be purchasing gasoline from any country which provides us with premium gasoline at a reasonable price," he added.

Iran, the second-largest OPEC oil exporter, lacks sufficient refining capacity to meet domestic fuel demand and imports up to 40 per cent of the petrol it uses. That has led Washington to propose new sanctions targeting shipments of refined oil products to Iran as a way of exerting pressure on the country to end its uranium enrichment programme, which the US and its European allies suspect is aimed at covert nuclear weapons development.

Insisting its nuclear programme is peaceful, Tehran has downplayed the potential impact of any sanctions aimed at restricting its fuel supply. Indeed, China, Malaysia and Russia have recently increased petrol exports to Iran, after India's Reliance Industries and Britain's BP stopped their shipments. And Venezuela has pledged to supply 20,000 barrels per day of the fuel to Iran, or about a sixth of the country's current imports.

Analysts have said the proposed fuel sanctions would be unlikely to persuade Tehran to make concessions on its nuclear programme, as they would hurt the Iranian people more than the regime. Some have argued that the Revolutionary Guard, key supporters of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would be enriched through their control of petrol-smuggling rings. Iranian consumption of petrol, which is heavily subsidised, has risen by about 6 per cent this year, despite rationing. tcarlisle@thenational.ae