One of Iran's greatest imports is oil, despite having the third-largest oil reserves in the world. Nonelectrical machinery, iron and steel, and chemicals are other products that Iran imports. In smaller quantities, Iran imports transport vehicles and electrical machinery, tools and appliances.
Although Iran has vast oil reserves, it is forced to import gasoline because it does not have the resources to turn enough of its oil into gasoline to meet the consumption demands of its people. This is due in large part to international economic sanctions and political pressure by the United States, which has discouraged international companies from investing the capital Iran needs to build refineries.
Iran historically sold gas to its people at 12 cents a gallon, less than one third the price of production. Demand skyrocketed, eventually outstripping the country's capacity to produce. Smugglers exacerbated the problem by taking Iranian oil and selling it at a premium to neighboring countries. As a result, the Iranian government was forced to increase gas prices to 40 cents per gallon, angering citizens who were used to the subsidized price. The resulting practice of Iranian citizens turning to black markets for their gasoline has furthered Iranian dependency on foreign nations to meet its gasoline demands.