President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off on Thursday the impact of any sanctions targeting Iran's gasoline imports and suggested it would soon be able to meet its own needs, Iranian media reported.
U.S. President Barack Obama has given Iran until September to take up a six-power offer of talks on trade benefits if it shelves sensitive nuclear enrichment, or face harsher sanctions.
Iran is the world's fifth-largest crude exporter but its refineries lack the capacity to meet domestic fuel demand so it imports up to 40 percent of its gasoline.
The United States and its allies may target those imports if Tehran refuses to enter talks over its nuclear programme. The West suspects Iran aims to make nuclear bombs, while Tehran insists it needs atomic fuel for power plants.
Ahmadinejad said Iran broke down previous punitive measures imposed against the Islamic Republic and that talk of gasoline sanctions showed how politically backward its foes were, state broadcaster IRIB quoted him as saying.
In the course of the next one or two years the Star refinery will be commissioned in (the Iranian port of) Bandar Abbas and we will ourselves be a producer of gasoline, he said.
The semi-official Fars News Agency quoted him as saying: The Iranian nation is no longer afraid of any threat or sanction.
Iran's oil minister earlier this week said Tehran had taken all necessary measures to meet its gasoline needs.
To pressure Tehran to give up its nuclear programme, the U.S. Senate last month voted to ban firms that sell gasoline and other refined oil products to Iran from also receiving Energy Department contracts to deliver crude to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Analysts say U.S. sanctions against suppliers of fuel to Iran would drive up the price the Islamic Republic has to pay for imports and provide a big money-making opportunity for oil traders able to flout the measures.
The companies that sell fuel into Iran include Europe-based trading firms Vitol, Trafigura, Russia's LUKOIL and Malaysia's state oil company Petronas, oil traders said.
India's Reliance has also supplied Iran, but has shipped nothing since May, traders said, possibly to avoid any