July 22, 2009 | Press Release

FDD Senior Fellow Orde Kittrie Testifies On Gasoline Sanctions Against Iran

Senate Expresses Support for Additional Sanctions

Washington, D.C. (July 22,  2009) —Orde Kittrie, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Iran’s economic vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of using gasoline sanctions as leverage to halt the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program.

“Congressional sanctions bills have served as a kind of Sword of Damocles hanging high over the head of the Iranian regime,” Kittrie said in his testimony.  “Despite this, Iran’s nuclear program has raced forward.” 

“In light of this,” said Kittrie, “it is time both to increase the weight of the Sword of Damocles hanging over the Iranian regime’s head and begin lowering the sword.”  

Kittrie, who is also a professor of law at Arizona State University, called for increasing the sanctions threat to Iran and making it more imminent, including by positioning the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act “for immediate enactment if no significant progress is made by the time of the G-20 summit meeting.”

“Squeezing Iran’s gasoline imports would remind the Iranian people that instead of choosing to invest in improving refining capacity to meet Iran’s growing demands, the Iranian government has chosen to invest in a nuclear program that is contrary to international law, economically inefficient, and has resulted in five condemnatory Security Council resolutions, international isolation, and various sanctions targeting Iran.”

Kittrie’s full written testimony is available here.

Yesterday, the Senate voted to urge President Obama to impose new sanctions against Iran, including sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, if Iran has not accepted the offer by the United States to engage in direct diplomacy before the G-20 summit in September 2009 or has not suspended various prohibited nuclear activities within 60 days of the conclusion of that summit.  The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act was sponsored by Senators Kyl (R-AZ), Lieberman (ID-CT), McCain (R-AZ), and Bayh (D-IN).

“If the regime faced damaging economic pressure from a significant reduction in gasoline supplies, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei might decide that a nuclear bomb, instead of being the guarantor of regime survival, could be the catalyst of its demise,” said FDD Executive Director Mark Dubowitz, who co-leads FDD’s Iran Energy Project. “At that point, he might be in the mood to compromise. If not, no one could argue that countries threatened by Iran had ignored peaceful alternatives.”

A recent op-ed by Mark Dubowitz in the Wall Street Journal Europe is here.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies has conducted extensive research on the handful of foreign energy companies supplying gasoline to Iran, has identified potential points of leverage against these companies that could be used to convince them to end their business relationships with Iran, and has formulated policy options available to U.S. and foreign policymakers to target Iran’s reliance on imported gasoline.

For more information on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ research and analysis of how Iran’s dependence on foreign oil can be used as leverage over its nuclear weapons program, please contact Judy Mayka at (202) 207-3698 or   [email protected]