July 2, 2012

Following a European Union embargo on Iranian oil imports that came into effect on Sunday, the Iranian parliament today drafted a bill to block oil shipments to countries cooperating in punitive sanctions against the country.

Around 17 million barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq move through the Strait of Hormuz every day.

“There is a bill prepared in the National Security and Foreign Policy committee of Parliament that stresses the blocking of oil tanker traffic carrying oil to countries that have sanctioned Iran,” Iranian MP Ibrahim Agha-Mohammadi told reporters. “This bill has been developed as an answer to the European Union’s oil sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The move appears to be largely symbolic. Iran’s parliament does not hold much power and legislation rarely advances without the support of the 12-member Council of Guardians comprised of Muslim clerics and lawyers.

Iranian vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimi, however, took to the state television’s website and characterized Iran’s response to the embargo as a “battle.”

The White House praised the EU embargo on Sunday, “The United States welcomes the European Union’s prohibition of all Iranian crude oil imports and other sanctions on Iran’s oil industry, which go into full effect today,” the White House said in a statement.

In December, the U.S. 5th Fleet warned Iran after the Islamic nation’s navy chief said it would be “very easy” to close down the strategic waterway in response to sanctions.

“This is not just an important issue for security and stability in the region, but is an economic lifeline for countries in the Gulf, to include Iran,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said. “Interference with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated.”

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