11 Jul 2012

US lawmaker calls on Tuvalu to stop reflagging Iranian oil tankers

10:51 am on 11 July 2012

A prominent United States lawmaker has asked Tuvalu to stop reflagging Iranian oil tankers and is warning its government of the risks of running afoul of US sanctions.

The European Union banned Iranian oil imports as well as providing insurance for vessels carrying Iranian oil on the 1st of July, and the US has new economic sanctions that have curbed Iranian oil imports by most other major nations.

The Reuters news agency says reflagging ships masks their ownership, which could make it easier for Iran to obtain insurance and financing for the cargoes, as well as find buyers for the shipments without attracting attention from the United States and European Union.

The National Iranian Tanker Company changed the names and flags of many of its oil tankers ahead of the EU ban, part of sweeping economic measures aimed at pressuring Tehran to end its nuclear program.

The top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee,Howard Berman, says the move has the effect of assisting the Iranian regime in evading U.S. and EU sanctions and generating additional revenues for its nuclear weapons program and its support for international terrorism.