April 12, 2010 | Press Release

House Takes Major Step toward Gasoline Sanctions on Iran

House Takes Major Step toward Gasoline Sanctions on Iran

Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act receives large bipartisan majority

Washington, D.C. (December 15, 2009) – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA). The bill was approved with strong bipartisan support on a vote of 412 to 12. The vote comes on the heels of revelations of major advances in Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

IRPSA (H.R. 2194) was introduced by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and cosponsored by more than 340 representatives including Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). It authorizes the president to sanction any person or entity that sells gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran. It also applies to the insurance, reinsurance, and shipping companies that facilitate this trade.

FDD has provided leading research and analysis to support gasoline sanctions as part of a comprehensive sanctions strategy against the Iranian regime should diplomacy fail to halt its illegal nuclear program.

“FDD applauds Chairman Berman, whose leadership and commitment to a thoughtful process has brought together overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation. He and the members of the House of Representatives recognize that limiting Iran’s ability to import gasoline must be part of any serious sanctions program that seeks to pressure the regime over its illegal nuclear weapons program,” said FDD Executive Director Mark Dubowitz. “Iran had an historic opportunity to reverse course, to stop its deceit and stalling tactics. Regrettably, it chose to continue its dangerous path. The House’s message is: there are consequences both for the regime and for those who abet its nuclear weapons capabilities.”

“This bill targets two of the regime’s greatest vulnerabilities-Iran’s troubled economy and the active opposition of many of its people,” said Dubowitz. “Gasoline sanctions will both ratchet up the economic pressure on the regime and remind the Iranian people of how badly the regime has mismanaged the economy and isolated Iran from the rest of the world. If the regime responds by cutting gasoline subsidies, the likely result is higher inflation, which will only compound Iran’s enormous economic difficulties, and further inflame a population that is simmering with deep resentment toward its own leaders.”

“The legislation will also provide Congress with the ability to scrutinize relationships between international companies and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a blacklisted organization, which is treated no differently than al-Qaeda under U.S. law,” said Dubowitz. “The vote should serve to encourage these companies to cooperate closely with Treasury and the State Department in ending these business ties with the IRGC lest they find themselves subject to Congressional investigation, public censure, and further legislative action.”

The Senate has advanced its own version of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, sponsored by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). On Oct. 29, the Senate Banking Committee approved the Dodd-Shelby Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (S.2799), which combines previous pieces of sanctions legislation, including IRPSA. On November 19, the legislation was placed on the Senate calendar for future consideration.

Dubowitz also noted that this legislation could serve as a model for other countries, including Canada, an energy superpower in which many of Iran’s gasoline suppliers have made or are seeking significant investments. “The Canadian government has shown a strong commitment to action against Iran’s human rights abuses, its nuclear weapons program, and its support for terrorism. Canadian support of refined petroleum sanctions as well as targeted efforts against the IRGC would be consequential.”

FDD researches the energy companies that supply Iran with gasoline and has identified significant points of leverage that can be used to convince them to end their trade. It also conducts research on the insurance and reinsurance companies that facilitate gasoline sales to Iran.

For more information on FDD’s Iran Energy Project, the companies involved in supplying Iran with gasoline, and ways to significantly reduce Iran’s gasoline imports, please visit IranEnergyProject.org or contact Judy Mayka at
[email protected]
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The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism. Founded shortly after the attacks of 9/11, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications, and investigative journalism in support of its mission. For more information, please visit www.defenddemocracy.org.