January 6, 2009 | Press Release

India’s Largest Company Cuts Off Gasoline Sales to Iran

Washington,  DC – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) applauds Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL)  decision, reported today, to cease gasoline sales to Iran. Reliance’s decision follows the receipt of a letter to the Export-Import Bank from members of the U.S. Congress expressing concerns about Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons, its sponsorship of terrorism, and its human rights abuses, especially against the Iranian people.

“Doing business with Tehran is a serious threat to the reputation of any business,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of FDD, a nonpartisan policy institute focusing on terrorism that has researched the companies providing gasoline to Iran.

He continued: “The Iranian regime is responsible for abusing its own citizens and murdering innocent civilians throughout the world.  Providing the gasoline that fuels the Iranian regime and its military is simply bad business. The other companies exporting gasoline to the regime should follow Reliance’s lead.”

The U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provides support to U.S. exporters, approved $900 million in loan guarantees to expand the Jamnagar oil refinery used by Reliance to refine petroleum for sale to Iran. Members of Congress wrote letters to the Ex-Im Bank demanding a full investigation into these loan guarantees.  Members included Senators Kyl and Lieberman as well as Representatives Berman, Sherman, Ackerman, Kirk, Israel, Klein, Rothman and Royce.

“This move is a blow to Iran and its nuclear ambitions,” noted Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at FDD and a professor of law at Arizona State University who wrote a definitive op-ed on this issue in the Wall Street Journal in November 2008.  “Members of Congress used appropriate oversight when they asked whether US taxpayers should be subsidizing the sale of gasoline to a terrorist state.”

Although Iran is a major oil producer, it must import 40 percent of the refined oil it needs because it lacks the refining capacity to meet its internal consumption.  Reliance provides Tehran with approximately 25 percent of its refined oil imports or approximately 10 percent of the Iran’s total gasoline consumption.

Four other companies provide the majority of Iran’s imported gasoline: “Executives at Vitol, Trafigura, British Petroleum and Total should take the same responsible steps as their colleagues in Mumbai and stop providing gasoline to a terrorist state that is in flagrant violation of international law,” said Dubowitz.

Dubowitz added, “Many Iranians are angry that the Iranian regime continues policies which have only brought international isolation, economic distressand embarrassment to a people with a long and proud history. Any peaceful step that undermines the regime will ultimately benefit the Iranian people.”

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