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Will House sanctions work on Iran?

Iranian oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Congress is stepping up pressure on Iran to end its nuclear weapons program. Yesterday, the House passed a bill strengthening sanctions against the country. Marketplace's Brett Neely reports Congress is going after what may be Iran's Achilles Heel.


Brett Neely: Iran has huge oil reserves, but it has to import about 40 percent of its gasoline because it doesn't have enough refineries.

California Democrat Howard Berman is the bill's sponsor:

Howard Berman: It would sanction foreign companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran, or help Iran with its own domestic refining capacity by depriving those companies of access to the United States market.

After massive protests earlier this year, sanctions expert Gary Hufbauer says Iran's government is vulnerable to economic pressure. But he says smugglers will find a way to keep Iran supplied with gasoline.

Gary Hufbauer: Short of blockading the Persian Gulf, the Straits of Hormuz, it will come through.

The Carnegie Endowment's Karim Sajadpour says dissidents in Iran are worried about the possible new sanctions.

Karim Sajadpour: People believe that sanctions on gasoline are going to hit the average person and may actually pour cold water on the momentum of the opposition.

The Senate will likely take up the bill early next year.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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