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Royal Dutch Shell halts gasoline sales to Iran

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Royal Dutch Shell has stopped selling gasoline to Iran, the company confirmed Wednesday, adding to a list of oil giants that have stopped sales after a threat of future U.S. sanctions.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) said it had no official announcement beyond the confirmation, but according to someone with knowledge of the situation the company ceased gas sales to Iran sometime in 2009.

"Shell is currently not selling gasoline to Iran," a Shell spokesman said, but he would not comment on whether the decision was related to talk of possible U.S. sanctions on Iranian gasoline imports.

Concerns have grown over Iran's nuclear program, and last month the Senate passed a bill that would allow President Obama to expand sanctions against Iran to pressure the republic into dropping its plans.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but some fear the country wants to develop nuclear weapons. Under the Senate bill, Obama could impose new sanctions that would ban most direct imports and exports between Iran and the United States.

"If there was new legislation or sanctions, obviously we would comply with them as we would for any country," the Shell spokesman said.

The House passed its own sanctions bill last year, and in order to become law the two bills would have to be merged and approved by both bodies before going to Obama for his signature.

According to Reuters, Shell shipped about 1.65 million barrels of gasoline into Iran from April through October 2009.

In a State Department briefing, spokesman P.J. Crowley said the agency would continue "to move forward with prospective sanctions, and I expect you'll see this advance over the next several weeks."

Crowley added: "We are looking for countries and companies to be supportive as we try to find the right formula to put economic and political pressure on Iran to change its course."

-- CNN's Adam Levine contributed to this report. To top of page

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