Iran Nuclear NewsUS lawmaker urges Iranian gasoline embargo

US lawmaker urges Iranian gasoline embargo


ImageAFP: The United States should impose an embargo on gasoline deliveries to Iran in order to halt the Islamic republic's development of nuclear weapons, a US lawmaker said Friday. By Mira Oberman

ImageCHICAGO (AFP) — The United States should impose an embargo on gasoline deliveries to Iran in order to halt the Islamic republic's development of nuclear weapons, a US lawmaker said Friday.

"The time is running out," said Representative Mark Kirk, co-chair of the bi-partisan House Iran Working Group.

Kirk pointed to Thursday's blunt UN report expressing as proof that Iran is seeking atomic weapons and warned that those weapons would quickly end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

"The vision of the world in which I don't think we should embrace is one in which the national security of the West, and especially our allies in Israel, depends on a hope that the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) does not transfer nuclear weapons to Hezbollah," the Republican congressman from Illinois told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Kirk insisted that current UN sanctions "have not yielded any results" and said more extreme measures are needed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

He opposes a US military option as "complicated, expensive and unpredictable" and said a gasoline "quarantine" would have such dire economic consequences that Iran's leaders would be forced to bow to international pressure.

Because of a lack of domestic refining capacity, oil-rich Iran is dependent on gasoline imports to meet about 40 percent of domestic consumption.

Iran gets most of those imports from the Swiss firm Vitol, the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura, France's Total, the Swiss firm Glencore and British Petroleum, as well as the Indian firm Reliance.

Bills adding a ban on the provision of gasoline to the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act have already passed the House and Senate and are currently being reconciled so they can be passed along to President Barack Obama.

Kirk urged Obama to sign the bill into law and impose both the gasoline ban and sanctions against the 20 or so companies that have violated US limits on investing in the Iranian oil and gas industry.

He acknowledged that the sanctions would severely impact the Iranian people and engender anti-American sentiment but said that over time the populist anger would eventually turn towards the Iranian regime.

And he argued that the president should "speak directly, forcefully and repeatedly on the case of dissidents in Iran" and make "human rights and democracy a central tenant of our strategy with Iran."

Iran's all-powerful leader said Friday the Islamic republic is not seeking atomic weapons despite global condemnation after the UN report expressed concern it is trying to develop a nuclear warhead.

Supreme leader and commander-in-chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran's religious beliefs meant it was against the use of nuclear weapons.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, expressed his concern in a blunt first report to the watchdog's board of governors.

"The information available to the agency… raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," Amano wrote.

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