In an attempt to force Tehran to halt its enrichment program, the US Senate has voted to put pressure on companies selling gasoline to Iran.
A bill approved on Thursday by the Senate says companies that continue to sell gasoline and other refined oil products to Iran will be banned from receiving Energy Department contracts to deliver crude to the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Reuters reported.
The measure must now be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives.
In June, a committee in the House of Representatives voted to target Iran’s gasoline imports and its domestic energy sector. Iran imports some 40 percent of its gasoline needs.
The House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote a measure prohibiting the US Export-Import Bank from helping companies that export gasoline to Iran or support its production at home.
The measure is aimed at pressuring Iran into relinquishing its nuclear program, which the US and the West allege has military purposes.
Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has repeatedly rejected the claim, saying that nuclear weapons do not fit in its defense paradigm.
The US Energy Department had previously awarded contracts to supply crude to the US reserve to three of Iran’s gasoline suppliers: Vitol [VITOLV.UL], Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) and Glencore.
The US Congress created the emergency petroleum reserve in the mid 1970s and the stockpile is holding some 724 million barrels of crude at four underground storage sites in Texas and Louisiana.