The Iranian Parliament recently approved a budget for the fiscal year ending March 2007 which calls for reducing Iran’s imports of gasoline from $4 billion to $2.5 billion, and is considering implementing a national fuel rationing plan. For a country that holds about 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves, these might seem like odd maneuvers, but it could indicate Iran’s willingness to suffer complete isolation over international pressure concerning its nuclear program.

Or it could all be about money. Turki Al-Faisal, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., recently predicted that if Iran’s nuclear issue were to explode into a military event, it could triple oil prices. Seems to me that pushing such a conflict to the brink would have the effect of giving Iran a better price for its oil for some period of time. Meanwhile, Iran has apparently recently reached out to Russia in hopes of establishing a “gas OPEC” by which Russia and Iran would attempt to play a dominant role in setting world natural gas prices. Russia tepidly denies such a scheme.