World News

Iran's Oil Tanker Fleet Being Squeezed as Sanctions Bite

Iran's Oil Tanker Fleet Being Squeezed as Sanctions Bite

Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran considers such actions against its oil sales "piracy", warning Tel Aviv that it will face a tough response if it approaches Iran's oil tankers.

Iran is running short of options to replace its ageing fleet of tankers and keep oil exports flowing because renewed USA sanctions are making potential sellers and flag registries wary of doing business with Tehran, Western and Iranian sources said.

"Last November, we re-imposed all of the U.S. sanctions authorities previously lifted under the Iran nuclear agreement, and added over 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels onto our sanctions list on a single day".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship fuel. India's optimism stems from a series of meetings following a reduction in oil imports from Iran, officials indicated.

Brian Hook, the State Department's top Iran diplomat, said in November 2018, "If Iranian takers make calls to your ports or transit through your waterways, this comes at great risk".

"The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country's shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat", Hatami said.

Iran's navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

More news: Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for climate activism

For example, last year, one of Iran's tankers sank near China after a collision with another vessel.

Renewed U.S. sanctions have also meant Iran has been unable to secure vital certification services from foreign providers to ensure its ships remain seaworthy, shipping officials said.

He said these tankers can no longer be insured by global companies and are likely to be insured by Iranian firms.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stressed Washington's commitment to swiftly bring Iranian crude oil exports to zero, saying Tehran's role in the energy market has been diminishing due to US pressure.

While tracking Iran's oil exports has become an increasingly hard task after the US sanctions returned, some of the key Iranian oil customers that received USA waivers resumed buying Iran's oil in 2019 or increased imports to their respective ceiling allowed under the waivers, after an initial "wait-and-see mode" for November and December purchases amid uncertainties as to who was getting waivers.

In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook described Iran's tanker sector as a "floating liability", saying the US sanctions would bar them from worldwide insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.


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