Iran faces growing economic pressure after two more western oil firms halted business with it. To compound Iran’s problems a Gulf Arab, country seen as a trade lifeline for Tehran moved to freeze some Iranian linked bank accounts. Today Spain’s largest oil company, Repsol have announced they have pulled out of a contract it won with Royal Dutch Shell to develop part of the South Pars gas field in Iran. France’s Total also joined an expanding list of companies that have stopped gasoline sales to Iran.
“Total has suspended its sales of gasoline or refined products to Iran,” a company spokesman said in Paris.
The growing list of companies stepping away from Iran underlined the major oil producer’s increasing international isolation over a nuclear program it says is aimed at generating electricity but major powers suspect is intended for making bombs. These decisions were made public today, a mere four days after the U.S. Congress approved a bill to penalize firms supplying gasoline to the Iran.
Iran is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter but lacks sufficient refining capacity for its own fuel needs.
Speaking from Washington on Sunday the director of the U.S. C.I.A, Leon Panetta, said targeted economic sanctions would probably not deter Iran from seeking a nuclear capability. Panetta also asserted that Tehran had enough nuclear material for two bombs if further enriched.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissed the measures, declaring that his country could become self-sufficient in gasoline production within a week.