TEHRAN — An Iranian oil official said on Friday that the new US and European sanctions against the Islamic republic bring it closer to self-sufficiency, including in refining petrol.
"The more Americans and Europeans sanction us, the closer it takes us to self-sufficiency," Fars news agency quoted Ali Reza Zeighami, deputy oil minister and head of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company, as saying.
On Thursday, the US Congress approved a package of tough new energy and financial sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to halt its controversial programme of uranium enrichment.
World powers led by Washington suspect Tehran seeks to make atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, but Iran says its nuclear project is entirely peaceful.
On June 9, the UN Security Council passed a fourth set of sanctions against Iran, and this was followed by the European Union and United States levying separate measures against it.
The US measures aim to choke off Iran's access to imports of refined petroleum products such as petrol and jet fuel, and curb its access to the international banking system.
Iran is OPEC's second largest oil exporter but has to import a large part of its needs in petroleum products, including petrol.
"Despite sanctions, in two years' time we will be self-sufficient in providing petrol, and two years after that we will be able to be a petrol exporter," Zeighami said after visiting the Imam Khomeini refinery, southwest of Tehran.
"Sanctions will make us more determined to address our needs locally," he said, adding that Iran currently imports 18 to 20 million litres (4.7 to 5.2 million gallons) of petrol a day.
"Most of these sanctions are propaganda. Even as they impose sanctions on us, a number of foreign companies are in line to invest" in Iran, Zeighami said.
Iranian officials say that Tehran has increased its stockpile of petrol ahead of the sanctions.
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