Iran turns off tracking systems on tankers

2012-05-14 09:57

Washington - In a bid to circumvent crippling international sanctions, Iran has been routinely switching off satellite tracking systems on its sea-bound oil tankers, The Washington Post reported late on Sunday.

Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the practice has been going on for more than a month.

US officials and industry analysts describe it as a cat-and-mouse game with Western governments seeking to enforce sanctions on Iranian exports, the report said.

The unusual tactic was begun in early April and affects a quarter of Iran's tanker fleet, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which has been monitoring the practice, the paper noted.

The move, a violation of maritime law, is only modestly effective in hiding tankers as they ply the oceans in search of open ports and willing buyers, The Post said.

Second biggest exporter

But it underscores Iran's precarious position as it faces ever-tighter Western restrictions against its oil industry, the paper noted.

Iran relies on oil exports for around two-thirds of its foreign currency earnings.

The Islamic republic is the second biggest exporter in Opec, after Saudi Arabia. Last year, it exported at least 2.6 million barrels per day of the 3.5 million barrels per day it pumped out of its huge reserves.

The United States and the European Union have imposed their economic sanctions on Iran to pressure it over its disputed nuclear programme.

The West and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency suspect the programme includes a drive to develop the capability to make atomic weapons, despite Iran's repeated denials.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-05-14 10:51

    The West as usual wasting time and money on a wasted effort, Oil exports from Iran haven't dropped since the embargo, they have increased!! South Africa's imports from Iran have risen month on month every single month this year, China, Russia and Korea are also known to have publicly stated that they will buy any surplus reserves that Iran has. As these countries use their own tankers its impossible to track them effectively, Iran's turning off of positioning systems simply makes it a little harder to track who they are selling to. By now the Iranian government has also consolidated and centralized its funds so that they cannot be seized by the international banks, and are fairly much in a position where sanctions only hurt the people not the government. Another poorly though out western response, but then again the US has a history of failed foreign conflicts

      DSBennie - 2012-05-14 13:15

      South Africa will quickly change its tune when sanctions apply to us as well, any bank trading with any Iranian bank will loose its SWIFT services and will thus be cut off from the rest of the banking world, no SA bank will allow transactions to go through at the risk of loosing SWIFT services

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-14 15:35

      You're still living in a delusory world. Russia is the largest oil producer in the world. It imports zero oil. China and Korea's oil imports from Iran are reducing significantly. Even India's imports have dropped significantly (34% in April alone). The closer we get to June the stronger the pressure will be on Iran. Much better to resolve the Iranian regime's intransigence this way than with war, don't you think?

  • Henry - 2012-05-14 13:45

    Does a state of war not exist between the iranians and the USA,or iran and Israel ? Simply take out those nuclear facilities,iranians can start from scratch again,get it bombed again,restart again etc...until they give up trying to get the "Bomb"

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