US Threatens World: Ban Iranian Oil Tankers or Risk Catastrophic "Accidents"
November 9, 2018
AntiWar.com & Agence France-Presse & Channel News Asia & Associated Press
The US State Department has issued a series of warnings demanding that all world ports avoid even nominal contact with Iranian commercial ships, warning that even limited contact could lead to US sanctions. All ports and maritime insurance companies were ordered to "steer clear" of Iranian ships or face US sanctions. The US warned that any country that allowed an Iranian oil tanker to even enter its territorial waters would suffer "catastrophic economic damage."
US Warns All Ports to Block Iranian Ships
Say Iranian oil tankers mustn't even
be allowed in territorial waters
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 7, 2018) -- The US State Department has issued a series of warnings today demanding that all ports in the world avoid even nominal contact with Iranian commercial ships, warning that even limited contact could lead to US sanctions.
Among the demands were that all ports and maritime insurance companies "steer clear" of Iranian ships, saying the US would sanction anyone knowingly providing service to them. The threats were even broader for Iranian oil tankers.
With respect to the tankers, even though the US offered waivers on oil purchases to eight nations, the State Department says no country must be able to allow any Iranian oil tankers to even enter their territorial waters, saying this would result in penalties and "catastrophic economic damage."
US officials are trying to force the world to stop buying Iranian oil, but say they are also doing so while trying to avoid a major price hike. Since none of Iran's major oil buyers is willing to stop buying, the US has so far proven unable to stop them.
US Warns to Stay Away from Iranian Shipping
Agence France-Presse & Channel News Asia
WASHINGTON (November 9, 2018) -- The United States on Wednesday (Nov 7) warned all ports and insurance companies to steer clear of Iranian ships, which it called a "floating liability" after the imposition of sweeping US sanctions.
Since Monday, the United States has aimed to end all of Iran's sales of oil, its crucial export, in a bid to curtail the influence of the Shiite cleric-led state.
Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative on Iran policy, said that the US sanctions extended to insurers and underwriters.
"Knowingly providing these services to sanctioned Iranian shipping companies will result in the imposition of US sanctions," Hook told reporters. "From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all choke points in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability," he said.
He said that Iranian vessels would likely turn to domestic insurers but doubted that they could cover losses stretching into the millions or billions of dollars in a major calamity. "Should there be an accident involving an Iranian tanker, there is simply no way these Iranian insurance companies can cover the loss," Hook said.
He said that the United States, whose military patrols the Gulf and is allied with Iran's rival Saudi Arabia, did not want incidents. "We sincerely hope there will be no accidents, but accidents are a very real possibility, given Iran's record," Hook said.
President Donald Trump in May pulled out of an international agreement negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, in which Iran curtailed its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
The Trump administration said that the deal did not address other concerns, including Tehran's support for regional proxies such as Hezbollah, and has boasted of the economic contraction forecast in Iran due to the renewed sanctions.
The United States has nonetheless granted eight waivers to places including China, India and Japan, which will not immediately be punished for continuing to buy Iranian oil.
US Warns Nations Not to Allow Iranian Oil Tankers
Matthew Lee / Associated Press
WASHINGTON (November 7, 2018) -- The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of US sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur.
The State Department reminded the global shipping and insurance industries Wednesday that as part of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure campaign" to get Iran to change its behavior, insuring Iranian tankers will now incur penalties under US sanctions reinstated this week.
Brian Hook, the special US representative for Iran, said that as major insurers withdraw coverage from Iranian vessels, Iran will likely turn to domestic insurance companies that will not be able to cover losses for maritime accidents that could run into the billions of dollars.
"From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all choke points in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability," Hook told reporters. "Countries, ports and canal operators and private firms should know they will be likely responsible for the costs of an accident involving a self-insured Iranian tanker."
The US "sincerely hopes" accidents do not occur, he said, but he noted that an Iranian tanker was involved in an accident in the East China Sea in January that resulted in the loss of the ship and a massive oil spill. He said the US has evidence that Iranian vessels are trying to evade US sanctions by disabling location transponders used to prevent collisions.
"This tactic is a maritime security threat," Hook said. "These transponders are designed to maximize visibility at sea and turning them off only increases risk of accidents and injuries. Self-insured Iranian tankers engaging in unsafe behavior, with many tons of crude oil on board, is courting environmental and financial disaster."
The sanctions that came into force Monday target Iran's energy, financial and shipping sectors and mark the end of US participation in the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from in May.
The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran by choking off its main source of revenue -- oil exports -- by imposing sanctions on countries and companies that do not end their imports.
However, some trade is still allowed, as the administration has granted waivers for eight major importers to continue buying Iranian petroleum products without penalty for another six months.
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