ICYMI: Failed American Leadership Is Making Panama A Pawn Of Our Enemies

(New York, N.Y.) On Thursday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace and UANI Advisory Board Member Governor Jeb Bush co-authored an op-ed in National Review arguing that Panama, a critical enabler of the Iranian regime’s annual multi-billion dollar oil smuggling, has drifted in this irresponsible direction in the absence of U.S. leadership. China, as the primary purchaser of illicit Iranian oil, benefits substantially from Panama’s lax regulatory oversight, and Panama has been the beneficiary of significant Chinese investments in telecommunications and infrastructure since 2018.

Nearly half of all vessels involved in Iran’s illegal oil trade are registered in Panama, according to a recent analysis published by UANI.

screenshot of quote in national review

China imports Iranian oil through non-state, semi-independent “teapot” petrochemical refiners. Despite the revenues being used to support Tehran’s nuclear program and state sponsorship of terrorism, the U.S. has allowed Chinese entities and Panamanian authorities to skirt accountability. Iran has exported in excess of $90 billion worth of oil since President Biden took office in 2021.

Ambassador Wallace and Governor Bush argue that the U.S. must “reassert U.S. leadership in Central America before Panama transforms into a regional Chinese-backed adversary” by enforcing existing U.S. sanctions against “nations that abet the illegal smuggling and sale of sanctioned Iranian oil.”

Additionally, they argue, “the Biden administration must apply greater pressure on Panama — using the incentive of enhanced diplomatic cooperation and even foreign aid — to ensure that the critical Central American nation exercises the necessary due diligence to prevent vessels flying the Panamanian flag from facilitating the apparatus that funds Iran’s global terror networks.”

To read the full op-ed “Failed American Leadership Is Making Panama A Pawn Of Our Enemies”, please click here.