NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Tuesday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on Tanzania to immediately investigate and clarify its actions regarding the reflagging of National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessels.
While Tanzania stated in August 2012 that it would de-register Iranian ships, reports indicate that NITC vessels have recently been reflagged in Tanzania, including a report today that the Baikal, an Iranian tanker, arrived on the Greek Island of Syros flying the Tanzanian flag.
Research shows that Baikal is involved in a fraudulent ownership and insurance scheme. The vessel is operating under the Tanzanian flag despite being owned by the NITC and insured by Kish P&I, which operates as a regime-backed P&I club that exists solely to service the NITC.
UANI calls on Tanzania to immediately state whether it has stopped reflagging Iranian ships, and either stop doing so or act with diligence to prevent Iranian vessels from continuing to sail the seas with Tanzanian flags.
In a letter to Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:
… [I]nformation has come to light confirming that several crude oil tankers owned by NITC are in fact operating under the Tanzanian flag. Furthermore, these NITC tankers appear to be insured by the Kish Protection & Indemnity Club, a fraudulent Iranian P&I club that exists solely to service NITC vessels. UANI calls upon Tanzania to take immediate steps to end the flagging of NITC vessels and clarify the obvious discrepancies between the foregoing information and Tanzania’s previous assertions that it had stopped reflagging Iranian vessels.
For example, the crude oil tanker “Baikal” is operating under the Tanzanian flag despite being owned by the NITC and insured by Kish P&I. Notably, the “Baikal” vessel recently made a port of call at Egypt’s Sidi Kerir Terminal, which is a key transit point for moving oil in and out of Egypt and is connected to the Sumed pipeline. … In addition, the crude oil tanker “Millionaire” appears to be involved in a similar fraudulent ownership and insurance scheme; “Millionaire” is owned by the NITC and insured by Kish P&I, but operates under the Tanzanian flag. UANI is particularly disturbed that “Millionaire” appears to have recently transported crude oil from an Egyptian port to Tartus, Syria -- an action in direct contraposition to the multinational sanctions put in place in response to the Assad regime’s ongoing and brutal crackdown on the Syrian people.
Clearly, in light of this information, the only responsible course of action for Tanzania is to immediately take action to sever all ties with NITC and the Iranian regime. It is doubtful that the Iranian regime could utilize Tanzanian flag services without the authorization of Tanzania. However if the Iranian regime’s use of Tanzanian flag services is indeed unauthorized, Tanzania must publicly confirm as such and take aggressive action to avoid complicity in the regime’s illicit shipping activities.
UANI has highlighted the shipping industry as an area where the international community can further pressure Iran. In a March 17 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, six UANI board members wrote that "the world must deny Iran's access to international shipping, a move that would severely affect the regime given its dependence on global trade and seaborne crude oil exports."
UANI has recently announced that Hong Kong, Moldova and Mongolia have ended their reflagging of Iranian vessels. The prominent shipping services Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, Korean Register of Shipping, China Classification Society, and ClassNK have stopped certifying Iranian vessels in response to UANI.