Cantwell Amendment Would Expose Prohibited Oil Exports to Iran

Iran reportedly imports up to 200,000 metric tons of gasoline per month; Cantwell amendment to publically expose violators clears key Senate committee ***VIDEO AVAILABLE***

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, an amendment introduced by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to expose the identities of companies selling petroleum to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions was approved unanimously by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR).

The Cantwell amendment requires the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) to report to Congress on the annual volume of refined petroleum products entering and exiting Iran and to make public the names of companies and individuals involved in this trade with Iran.

“According to some press reports, there are still some companies selling petroleum to Iran, evading international sanctions,” said Cantwell at today’s ENR hearing. “I think we should expose that behavior, which will be a strong deterrent to stop this illicit behavior. …This is a good way to have information collected so that we can use it and make sure that we are having another effective tool against nuclear proliferation from Iran.”

Many experts believe that Iran continues its aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and remains a threat to global security. Economic sanctions, such as those of existing U.S. laws like the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act (CISADA), have been effective in restricting revenue flows and pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. 

Although Iran is a major petroleum exporter, it imports about 40 percent of the gasoline and other refined petroleum products it consumes. Thus, targeting these import flows with legislation such as CISADA has had a major economic impact on Iran. Under U.S. law, foreign firms that invest in Iran’s energy sector or that sell refined petroleum or related equipment or services to Iran may be subject to penalties for violation of the sanctions. 

The threat alone of strong U.S. sanctions has led many of the world’s leading energy companies to cut ties with Iran. But there is some evidence that some major international companies are flouting U.S. law by continuing to provide Iran with refined petroleum, essentially “backfilling” for those that have been good corporate citizens and are in compliance with the sanctions law. Bloomberg reported in June that Iran is importing roughly 200,000 metric tons of gasoline per month.

Watch a video of Senator Cantwell’s remarks at today’s hearing.

High quality audio available upon request.