0419 GMT January 20, 2020
During an open session of the Parliament on Sunday, the MPs passed the generalities of the bill with 136 votes in favor, 32 votes against and three abstentions, reported Tasnim News Agency.
The spokesperson for the Parliament’s Energy Committee, Sakineh Almasi, said the bill would increase capacities of refineries of gas condensate and crude oil using public investment.
“Construction of refineries is a clever response by Iran to oil sanctions, and helps boost production and create jobs…,” she said.
The approval of the bill comes against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Iranian officials, however, have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of circumventing the American bans and selling crude oil.