Iran moves to impose gasoline rationing ready for showdown with US
The Islamic regime in Tehran plans to slash the supply of subsided gasoline to the public by 45 percent and ration individual purchases to 55 liters per month, down from the 100 allowed at present. This announcement Wednesday, Oct. 8, by Iranian oil minister Massoud Mirkazemi was Tehran’s second step ahead of an expected showdown with the West over its nuclear program.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report: Accusing the US of involvement in the disappearance of an important Iranian nuclear scientist was the first.
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The government will have no difficulty in getting the measure through the tame Majlis (Iranian parliament).
Iran imports 40 percent of its gasoline needs because it is short of oil refineries. This shortage is sustained to boost the revenues of the Revolutionary Guards which owns a monopoly on gasoline imports. It has now become a strategic threat to the regime, curtailing fuel supplies for the military in the event of war and undermining Iran’s ability to withstand severe sanctions.
Rationing may also provoke domestic unrest. Only 4.2 million liters of gasoline a day will be released, instead of the current 8 million. This will free up some 60,000 or so barrels a day for the Revolutionary Guards emergency stores. A much smaller cutback in 2007 caused serious riots in major cities; many gas stations and fuel depots were set on fire.
Earlier this week, Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki confronted Washington with a charge of US involvement in the disappearance of a nuclear scientist while on a pilgrimage to Mecca last May.