US observers said Vitol and Trafigura's actions, if accurate, indicate that sanctions legislation in the US Congress and pressure from President Barack Obama are already influencing the decision making of Iran's suppliers -- ahead of any sanctions going into force.
The new approach taken by Vitol and Trafigura "demonstrates that the mere threat of gasoline sanctions can change the calculus of Iran's major partners," said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
"We have already seen that just the threat of sanctions has had a measurable cost on Iran's ability to import gasoline," he said, "causing some of Iran's gasoline suppliers to withdraw from the Iranian market, banks to stop providing financing for these gasoline trades and forcing the regime to cut popular gasoline subsidies."
Dubowitz, however, speculated that Iran's traditional suppliers are likely to resume their trading if they no longer feel that the threat of sanctions is imminent.
The departure of Vitol and Trafigura from the Iranian gasoline market -- if followed through -- would mirror the recent exits of Kuwaiti trader IPG, India's Reliance Industries and Swiss trader Glencore.
Read the full article here