An oil tanker that’s owned by a US-traded transportation firm seems to be taking on Iran’s crude oil in an Asian maritime strait violating US sanctions, per an advocacy group. The company that’s allegedly involved mentioned on Wednesday it is going to take appropriate action when required.
Satellite images and maritime tracking data reviewed by The Associated Press placed a Belgian-flagged oil tanker next to a Vietnamese-flagged tanker for a probable ship-to-ship crude transfer.
United Against Nuclear Iran has further informed that it strongly believes the ship had taken on Iranian crude oil toward the end of February.
The suspicion arises as Iran is still able to trade crude oil at sea despite US sanctions placed after then-president Donald Trump withdrew the US unilaterally from the nuclear deal of Tehran with world powers back in 2018. Now, almost five years later, Iran reportedly enriches uranium closer than ever before to surprising weapons-grade levels while going on selling oil and supplying drones that were carrying bombs to Russia to fuel the country’s war in Ukraine.
A spokesman associated with the company, informed the AP that appropriate steps and protocols have been taken for making sure it is compliant with regulations.
He stated that the cargoes within the system have successfully passed the requirements. The company is going to continue monitoring specific shipments and also take appropriate actions wherever required.
He also added if the allegations that the oil is Iranian are proven, the cargo would be returned to the third party who has delivered it.
Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC, along with data from the ship’s Automatic Identification System trackers put the vessels on Tuesday and Wednesday in the waters of Malacca Strait, one of the busiest waterways of the world between Malaysia and Indonesia.Tracking data from reliable sources have shown that the vessels were alongside one another on Wednesday.
At sea, oil tankers can easily funnel crude between each other via a ship-to-ship transfer that sees vessels in similar positions.
The vessel had its AIS tracker off on 18 February as it was pointed toward the Bandar Mashahr. Ships are required to have their AIS trackers switched on for safety and security reasons, but vessels that are believed to be loaded with Iran’s crude oil turn theirs off for masking movements.
This isn’t the first time a US-linked company has been associated with Iranian oil transfer while at sea.
The US government has reported that illicit Iran-based oil revenue funds and the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, which is an expeditionary unit, seems active abroad in nations like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen for backing Iran and allied militias.
Reference: Times of Israel, The Economic Times
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