A bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act today. The bill “explicitly empowers the president to impose new economic sanctions on foreign firms involved in the export of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” according to a press release.
Despite its immense oil reserves, Iran currently lacks the refining capacity to meet domestic consumption and must import as much as 40 percent of its gasoline from abroad. During the presidential campaign, President Obama endorsed the strategy of using Iran’s dependence on foreign gasoline imports as leverage in the existing nuclear dispute. The legislation expands the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to give the president the authority to do so.
The legislation targets “foreign companies that sell gasoline or other refined petroleum products to Iran; firms that provide ships, shipping services, or insurance for this trade; those that finance or broker such activity; as well as those assisting Iran’s effort to increase its domestic refining capacity.”
It would also authorize “stronger penalties against these firms, including a ban on conducting business in the United States.”
The bill is being sponsored by Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Kit Bond (R-MO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), James Risch (R-ID), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).