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UANI launched its "Shipping Campaign" to demand that international shippers, sovereign states, and certification firms end their business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).
The Iranian regime is dependent on the international shipping industry for imports of goods and services, often in circumvention of international sanctions, as well as for exports of its most valuable commodity – crude oil – to the international market. Iranian ports are largely controlled by the IRGC, the dominant ideological entity of the regime. The IRGC manages the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and is responsible for countless acts of regional terrorism. On June 23, 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the IRGC-controlled Tidewater Middle East Co. ("Tidewater"), Iran’s major port operator, which has been used by the IRGC for illicit activities including weapons shipments. Overall, Tidewater operates seven Iranian ports, including the Shaheed Rajaee Port Complex at Bandar Abbas, where 90 percent of Iran's container traffic passes. Despite the IRGC’s control of these ports, and Iran’s known exploitation of international shippers to transport arms abroad, some international shipping companies irresponsibly continue shipping cargo to and from these ports.
International firms also facilitate the global trade activities of the IRISL, the regime-owned maritime shipping fleet. In 2008, the U.S. government sanctioned IRISL for its involvement in illicit commerce related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The EU has also blacklisted IRISL and the UN has labeled IRISL as a known sanctions violator and called for restricted dealings with the shipper. Following UANI campaigns, those shipping classification firms that provided ‘seals of approval’ to Iranian vessels and drilling rigs have withdrawn their certification of IRISL and NITC vessels. Without this certification, Iranian vessels are unable to secure shipping insurance or enter major international ports—effectively ending their operations. International shippers are also refusing to transport Iranian oil due to lack of insurance coverage. As a result, the state-owned National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) has had to assume these responsibilities—a task which it is not prepared to fully meet. The NITC is regularly struggling to meet delivery schedules, with oil shipments from Iran sometimes arriving 10 to 15 days late.
IRISL, which handles the regime's cargo shipping, is also facing severe difficulties. The managing director of IRISL stated in October 2012 that "If the government was not assisting, (sanctions) would have stopped a lot more of our activity... If this situation continues, certainly our operations will face serious problems. Shipping has been among the primary objectives of sanctions. The damage has had a significant bearing. More pressure will result in greater damage."
Overall, the loss of foreign certification, insurance and flagging services has led the number of vessels calling at Iranian ports to more than halve since 2010. To ensure this trend continues, it is time for all insurers, certification firms, flag agencies, port authorities and countries to deny service to NITC and IRISL.
Shipping Certification Firms
The leading and most respected shipping certification firms are part of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). Following targeted UANI campaigns, all members of the IACS who provided services to Iran have ended their certification of IRISL and NITC vessels.
November 2012: In response to UANI's campaign, the China Classification Society withdrew its certification of all Iranian vessels.
September 2012: In response to UANI's campaign, the Korean Register of Shipping (KR) decided to end its certification of Iranian vessels, specifically those of the sanctioned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC). KR had been the leading provider of certification services to the NITC.
September 2012: In response to UANI's campaign, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) decided to suspend its activities in Iran, including all certification and related services to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines ("IRISL") vessels as well as offshore platforms including drilling rigs.
July 2012: In response to UANI's campaign, Japanese classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) decided to close its office in Tehran and end its work in Iran.
June 2012: In response to UANI's campaign, German shipping service Germanischer Lloyd decided to comply with international sanctions and cease its certification of Iranian shipping vessels, specifically those of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines ("IRISL") and the National Iranian Tanker Company ("NITC").
June 2012: In response to UANI's campaign, French shipping service Bureau Veritas decided to comply with international sanctions and cease its certification of Iranian shipping vessels, specifically those of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines ("IRISL") and the National Iranian Tanker Company ("NITC").
- May 2012: The Polish Register of Shipping and the Croatian Register of Shipping confirmed to UANI that they do not provide certification services to Iranian vessels or Iranian companies.
- April 2012: Lloyd’s Register of Britain announced it ended its operations in Iran in response to U.S. pressure. Lloyd’s had stopped assessing IRISL vessels and Iranian oil tankers, leading it to forego 3 million pounds in annual business with Iran.
- November 2011: Det Norske Veritas (DNV) of Norway announced it was ending its business in Iran due to the country’s political risk, slow economic growth and the regime’s egregious behavior. DNV had maintained an office in Iran with 18-20 employees and provided certification for 38-40 vessels flying the Iranian flag.
Flag States and Flagging of Iranian Vessels
All vessels that sail international waters and enter ports worldwide must by registered and certified by a sovereign state. In what has been described as a "cat-and-mouse game," the Iranian regime frequently re-flags and renames its vessels with the aid of "flag of convenience" registries in order to evade international sanctions. UANI campaigns have systematically pressured sovereign states and their maritime agents to de-flag Iranian vessels, thereby exposing Iranian vessels.
|Country||Number of IRISL/NITC Ships Flagged||UANI Campaign||Certified to Have Withdrawn Flagging Services for Iranian Vessels|
|3||November 29, 2012: Barbados ceases flagging Iranian vessels in response to UANI||✔|
|19||November 9, 2012: Hong Kong ceases flagging Iranian vessels in response to UANI||✔|
|12||September 28, 2012: Moldova ceases flagging Iranian vessels in response to UANI||✔|
|5||September 28, 2012: In response to UANI, Mongolia announces deflagging||✔|
International Shippers That Reportedly Service IRGC-Controlled Ports
As a result of a UANI campaign and Tidewater sanctions, Maersk, the world’s largest container shipper, ceased all business with Tidewater-managed ports in Iran in June 2011. In October 2012, Maersk ended all port calls following two and half year long campaign.