As the United States moves to choke off Iranian gasoline imports, Iran lays out plans to fight a possible upcoming embargo on vital fuel exports to the country.
Amid controversy surrounding the issue of foreign pressure on the country, the Iranian president said Thursday that his country has taken “all necessary measures” to cope with possible sanctions on its gasoline imports.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad argued that Iran had predicted the “plot” that is taking place in the United States and had taken measures to counter the “ineffective” move.
The remarks come as the US Senate has voted to impose sanctions on companies that ship gasoline and other refined oil products to Iran, in an attempt to force Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment activities.
Some countries in the West, spearheaded by the US and Israel, accuse Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the guise of peaceful enrichment activities — an allegation dismissed by Tehran and disputed by the UN nuclear watchdog.
Ahmadinejad shrugged off charges that the impact of the proposed fuel sanctions will be significant and said “the Iranian nation no longer worries about threats and sanctions.”
Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, possesses one of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves but is forced to import 40 percent of its gasoline to meet its growing demand.
Europe-based trading firms Vitol, Trafigura, Russia’s LUKOIL and Malaysian state oil company Petronas are among the companies that currently export fuel to Iran.
Ahmadinejad said in the Iranian quest to defy US pressure, Tehran will work hard to set up a refinery named the Persian Gulf Star within “the next one or two years” and will thus be able to domestically meet its rising gasoline demand.
He also proposed that Europe and the United States deal with Iran through “interaction and reconciliation instead of increased sanctions”.
Last week, Iranian OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi also commented on the issue and predicted that fuel producers would not ignore the fact that Iran enjoys a lucrative market.
“In such circumstances, global oil commodity producers will not easily opt to lose the opportunities provided by the Iranian market,” said Khatibi.
He said the global market has a large number of suppliers and therefore companies currently dealing with Tehran would not accept to ban gasoline exports to the country.