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Iran, bracing for sanctions, presses its parliament for gas money

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration is pressing the Iranian parliament to approve extra gas purchases to prepare for more sanctions.

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The Iranian government is struggling for parliamentary approval to purchase more gasoline for storage in preparation for possible sanctions that could spark a rise in gasoline import prices for the Islamic Republic, say oil officials and analysts inside the country.
 
"We heard that maybe in February they will announce another resolution in the Security Council, so storing more gasoline is to prepare for this,” says an Iranian oil ministry official, who spoke by phone on the condition of anonymity.

The US Senate is set to review proposed legislation sometime in January that would unilaterally sanction companies that give Tehran gasoline or tankers and insurance for fuel transports by preventing them from doing business in the US. If foreign firms targeted by the proposed US legislation ultimately adhere to the sanctions at a time when oil prices are on the rise, Iran could be faced with a major rise in procurement costs for the fuel.

Having to secure the country's fuel needs under any new international sanctions – designed to curb Iran's nuclear program – could drive up the price Iran will pay for its gas imports at a time when the Ahmadinejad administration is struggling to maintain the country's economic stability in the midst of major domestic political upheaval and a global economic downturn.

“They are bracing themselves for new sanctions,” says a Tehran-based analyst who asks not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

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