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July 6, 2010

(Re)Fueling Resentment

Airports in the UK, Germany, Kuwait, the UAE and elsewhere are refusing to refuel Iranian passenger planes, citing recently-passed US sanctions on petroleum sales to Iran.
Under the new law, sanctions are triggered once an entity provides one million dollars worth of refined petroleum to Iran, or five million dollars worth in the course of one year.  It’s fair to assume that BP’s contracts with major airports like Heathrow pass that monetary threshold, though BP officials won’t discuss specific contracts.
In discussions over the past two years on Capitol Hill, I’ve never once heard this cited as an intended consequence of the gasoline embargo.  In fact, US unilateral sanctions have come under fire in years past for putting unnecessary strain on Iran’s aging passenger fleet, and indirectly contributing to catastrophic plane crashes.  That is why OFAC has issued specific directives for licensing civilian aircraft parts for export.
This most recent development is yet another in the long history of unintended consequences of US sanctions harming innocent Iranians — and it puts the lie to the public statements from members of Congress and the administration that the sanctions are intended to target the ruling hardliners, not the Iranian people.

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