Economic pressure can compel Tehran to moderate its destructive behavior and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Crude and natural gas exports historically account for 25% of government revenues: it is therefore important to accurately track Iran’s oil exports to interpret if sanctions are effectively stopping the flow of revenue to the regime.
This can be difficult given the regime’s track-record of smuggling and sanctions evasion techniques and there is little consensus among oil tracking agencies about how much is getting through, and to where.
This variance mars the accuracy of media reports, but it also presents a serious challenge to those trying to get a handle on the trajectory of the Iranian economy, given its oil revenue dependency.
More importantly, a correct accounting of quantities and destinations will help focus limited resources to where they are really needed: which shippers, which vessels, which areas, which ports, which flags, which insurers.
UANI has therefore sought to address the information gap with a new comprehensive ship-tracking methodology.
Using Automatic Identification System (AIS), satellite imagery, vessel comparison and tanker classification, and cargo datasets to uncover all under-the-radar ship-to-ship (STS) transfers and exports of Iranian oil and gas condensates, we generate what we contend are the most accurate figures available.
This resource seeks to disrupt Iran’s attempts to generate profits from oil sales and further isolate the regime economically.
In the wake of Hamas’ massacre of 1,200 Israelis on October 7, Iran has taken advantage of the ensuing chaos to escalate its policy of maritime aggression. Some of Iran’s and Iranian proxies’ recent bold maneuvers include: the hijacking of and hostage-taking aboard MV Central Park; attacking the Israeli-owned container ship CMA CGM Symi using a bomb-carrying Iranian drone, and; launching missiles at the USS Mason.
Iran’s maritime aggression is often indicative of regional tensions. November was a clear reminder as Iranian Deputy Parliament Speaker Mojtaba Zonnour issued a stark and oft-signaled warning about Persian Gulf shipping safety. IRGC-tied Zonnour warned that Iran is permitted to inspect and potentially halt vessels traversing the Strait of Hormuz, a critical chokepoint for global energy shipments, should they be deemed a threat to Iranian national security. Just as Iran engages in hostage diplomacy, it conducts ship seizures for similar political gains and concessions. Read more
In November 2020, UANI identified 70 foreign vessels suspected of involvement in the illicit transfer of Iranian crude oil and/or petroleum products. Over two years later, the list has grown to 370. This suspected ghost armada, distinct from but complementing Iran’s own NITC tanker fleet, has skirted U.S. sanctions and exploited regulatory loopholes to ship millions of barrels of Iranian oil. Read more
The Iran nuclear deal is done. And the world's biggest companies have already visited Tehran ready to strike a deal when sanctions end. These businesses will add even more to Iran's bottom line. And that means continued development of nuclear technologies and more cash for Hamas and Hezbollah.