ICYMI: Bipartisan Alarm In U.S. Senate Over Inadequate Iran Sanctions Enforcement By Administration

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) voiced his strong concerns over the billions of dollars the Islamic Republic of Iran has earned by smuggling sanctioned oil and gas condensates, primarily to China. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman called for stronger efforts from the Biden Administration to enforce U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil. In doing so, he cited United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)’s Iran Tanker Tracking data to emphasize the magnitude of the problem. 

“Using a sophisticated web of shipping, delivery, and tanker flagging techniques, private energy analysts – here’s where we see their abilities in this space here to make these transfers that ultimate go to China – through tanker flagging techniques, private energy analysts estimate China bought an average between 350,000 and 650,000 barrels per day last year and according to United Against Nuclear Iran this amounted to roughly 10 billion dollars going to the regime, in violation of existing sanctions.” 

Senator Menendez’s remarks come on the heels of 10 U.S. Senate Republicans co-signing a letter last week to President Joe Biden, which pointed to UANI data that showed a more than 40 percent increase in Iranian oil exports in 2021 over the previous year, in their call for more robust sanctions enforcement.

Last month, China officially acknowledged for the first time in more than two years that it had imported Iranian oil – an openly declared violation of U.S. sanctions – though it grossly undercounted its purchases. Beijing has been importing millions of barrels of Iranian oil every single month since May 2, 2019, when the U.S. banned all Iranian oil exports to all countries. Since that date, China has imported a total of 542 million barrels from Iran. 

Iran is also demonstrating its capacity to successfully smuggle oil and natural gas to the Americas. Despite a December 22, 2021 warning from UANI that the sanctioned National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessel STARLA was laden and possibly headed to Venezuela, the supertanker arrived there last month with two million barrels of Iranian gas condensates. Its deliveries were preceded by foreign-flagged vessels transporting Iranian gas condensates to Venezuela in both August and September in exchange for 1.9 million barrels of Venezuela's heavy crude oil. 

To read UANI’s Iran Tanker Tracker resource, please click here. 

To read UANI’s January 2022 Iran Tanker Tracking, please click here.