Shipping Campaign

UANI launched its "Shipping Campaign" to embargo Iran’s shipping and port sectors. Iran’s blacklisted shipping fleet, comprised of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), is the regime’s critical lifeline to the global economy. The regime is also dependent on the international shipping industry for its participation in international trade and its export of oil. UANI is calling on all international shippers, flag states, marine insurance companies, and classification societies to end their business with Iran’s shipping and port sectors. International shippers must cease all port calls to Iran, and international port authorities must deny entry to all Iranian vessels.

Iranian ports are controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the dominant ideological entity of the regime which directs the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as its global terrorist activities. 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 to terrorist organizations.

The Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) builds on the 2011 Tidewater sanctions. Section 1244 blacklists Iran’s entire regime-controlled port sector, sanctioning any person who supports any activity that benefits port operators in Iran. This includes international shippers paying port loading fees to these operators and becomes effective on July 1, 2013.

For its part, UANI has succeeded in compelling the world’s leading classification societies to rescind certification coverage to Iranian vessels. UANI has also systematically denied Iranian vessels “flags of convenience” from flag states such as Barbados, Hong Kong, Moldova, and Mongolia. International cargo shippers, such as Maersk and CMA CGM, have also ended their Iran business in response to UANI campaigns.

Overall, international sanctions and UANI’s targeted campaigns have led to the unfolding collapse of Iran’s shipping industry. Iranian vessels have lost insurance and certification coverage and countries are refusing to flag Iranian ships. 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.” International shippers are also refusing to transport Iranian oil due to lack of insurance coverage. As a result, the 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. Ahead of the July 1 implementation of the 2013 NDAA, major global container shippers are also stopping to make port calls to Iran, which is further cutting Iran off from international trade. As a result of these developments, seaborne trade to Iran has plummeted. In 2012 through early October, the overall number of vessels calling at Iranian ports was 980. This compares to 3,407 ships for 2010 and 2,740 ships for 2011.

UANI’s campaigns targeting international cargo shippers, classification societies, and flag states will ensure that the Iranian regime shipping and port sectors are isolated from international markets as long as Tehran pursues nuclear weapons capability.

International Cargo Shippers That Call at Iranians Ports

International cargo shippers supply a critical economic lifeline to the Iranian regime by providing it access to global markets for both imports and exports. Under U.S. law, assisting Iran's port sector in any way is a sanctionable offense under the NDAA as of July 1, 2013. Such activity includes docking at Iranian ports – which are themselves controlled by the IRGC – since any vessel must pay port loading and other related fees. In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal in March, UANI called on all U.S. port authorities to deny docking privileges to all shipping companies that continue to do business in Iran. At the same time, this UANI campaign has applied strong pressure directly on international shipping companies to pull out of Iran.

f APL of Singapore stated it would ensure "all applicable regulations governing Shipments to Iran are adhered to."
c China's state-owned China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) had called to Bandar Abbas on its Middle East Service. Responding to a letter from UANI on June 27, 2013, CSCL said it would cease all Iran business as of July 1.
r CMA CGM, France's largest shipping line, issued a press release stating that it “strictly complies with the regulations adopted by the international community” amid reports that it had joined Maersk and MSC in exiting Iran in 2012. CMA CGM confirmed in a May 2, 2013 letter to UANI: "We have committed ourselves to stop all activities to Iran and we shall respect it as we shall comply with the U.S.A. instructions."
r COSCO of China calls at the Tidewater-controlled Bandar Abbas port and maintains an office in Tehran. At the same time, COSCO ships call at almost every major port in North America. In a May 14, 2013 letter to UANI, the Chinese shipping giant claimed that "Compliance with all international laws and regulations is a critical priority..." but failed to declare it would be withdrawing from Iran.
r In May 2013, CSAV of Chile suspended calls to Bandar Abbas on its Galex Sling 1 service. This follows CSAV’s August 2012 decision to “suspend booking acceptance from Europe to Iran with immediate effect.” In a June 10 letter sent to UANI by lawyers on behalf of CSAV, South America's largest shipping line confirmed that "CSAV... already decided to cease operations by CSAV owned, operated, or chartered Vessels to Iran ports." The letter went on to say that the company "may revisit this decision based on changes or clarifications of the scope of U.S. sanctions..."
r Evergreen of Taiwan was cited in UANI's March 2013 Wall Street Journal op-ed due to its heavy presence in ports throughout North America and in Iran. Shortly after, Evergreen privately communicated to UANI that it was in the process of ending its Iran business.
r Hanjin has reportedly ceased calling at Bandar Abbas on one service but it is not clear if Korea’s largest shipper has stopped all Iran business.
f Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) of South Korea operates two offices in Tehran and in Bandar Abbas through an agency. HMM also docks at Bandar Abbas and continues on to several of the world's largest ports. On June 10, it was reported that HMM would cease its Iran operations
f Ignazio Messina of Italy includes Bandar Abbas in its Port-of-Call dropdown list on its Middle East route map. An advisory notice was also issued on April 3, 2013 to warn of freight rate increases to Bandar Abbas.

Japan's "K" Line has operations in Iran, listing the port of Bandar Abbas on its Thailand-Middle East Service. "K" Line responded to a letter from UANI on May 16, 2013, stating that "we have complied with and will continue to comply with all laws and regulations pertaining to Iran that shall apply to us." "K" Line, however, failed to declare it would be withdrawing from Iran.

g As a result of UANI’s campaign and Tidewater sanctions, Maersk of Denmark, 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 UANI’s two and half yearlong campaign.
g Swiss shipper MSC reportedly pulled out of Iran in 2012, joining Maersk and CMA CGM, leaving the world's top three shipping lines without operations in Iran.

In response to to an inquiry from UANI, MISC Berhad, Malaysia's largest shipping line, wrote on May 27, 2013: "as of May 2012, MISC has ceased all shipping activities in Iran."


The Hong Kong subsidiary of Japan’s NYK Line, NYK (HK) Line Ltd., announced in August 2010 that it would cease operations in Iran. However, no such statement came from the parent company. Furthermore, in June 2011, NYK announced the launch of a joint line with Hanjin that includes a stop at Bandar Abbas.

g While OOCL, the Hong-Kong-based shipping giant, has apparently decided to stop its Intra-Asia feeder service from Jebel Ali to Iran, it continues to call at Bandar Abbas in no less than three other services.
g Pacific International Lines (PIL) of Singapore calls at no less than four Iranian ports: Bushehr, Bandar Khomeini, Khoramshahr, and the key port of Bandar Abbas.

Headquartered in Thailand, Regional Container Lines (RCL) Persian Gulf Service from Bandar Abbas to Jebel Ali and Khor Fakkan was displayed on its website and updated as recently as March 27, 2013. In correspondence to UANI on July 9, 2013, however, RCL confirmed that it had no business with Tidewater. All references to RCL's Iranian operations have now been removed.


Dubai-based SimaTech stated it would stop services to and from Iran from June 2013 due to the new sanctions.

g The Indian shipper TransAsia stated that it would cease calling at Bandar Abbas from July 2013.

T S Lines of Hong Kong lists Bandar Abbas on its Middle East Sailing Schedules.

g Cited in UANI's Wall Street Journal op-ed for its scheduled service at four Iran ports, United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), jointly owned by six Persian Gulf states, confirmed it had “suspended all services to and from Iran” on April 17, 2013. Replying to UANI correspondence, the Arabian shipping giant confirmed its Iran exit in its May 8, 2013 letter.
g Referenced in UANI's Wall Street Journal op-edYang Ming of Taiwan confirmed in its response letter to UANI that it would stop its China-Persian Gulf service on June 24, 2013. It is reported that its other services stopped in March 2013, which was confirmed in the same correspondence sent to UANI on May 9, 2013.
g Wan Hai of Taiwan has stated “it would no longer send its vessels to Iran.” However, it continues to list Iran offices on its website.

Shipping Classification Societies

The leading and most respected shipping certification firms are part of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). Following UANI's campaign against IACS, all IACS members that provided "seals of approval" to Iranian vessels and drilling rigs withdrew their certification of IRISL and NITC ships. Without this certification, Iranian vessels are unable to secure shipping insurance or enter major international ports—effectively halting their operations.

In response to UANI:

a November 2012: The China Classification Society (CCS) withdrew its certification of all Iranian vessels.
a September 2012: The Korean Register of Shipping (KR) withdrew its certification of IRISL and NITC vessels. KR had been the leading provider of certification services to the NITC.
a September 2012: The Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) suspended its activities in Iran, including all certification and related services to IRISL vessels and drilling rigs.
a July 2012: Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) of Japan closed its office in Tehran and ended all work in Iran.
a June 2012: Germanischer Lloyd ceased its certification of Iranian shipping vessels, specifically those of IRISL and NITC.
a June 2012: Bureau Veritas of France ceased its certification of IRISL and NITC vessels.

Flags of Convenience

All vessels that navigate international waters and enter ports worldwide must by registered and certified by a sovereign "flag state." In order to evade sanctions, the Iranian regime frequently re-flags its vessels under "flags of convenience." Flags of convenience describes the practice of registering a ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship's owners, and flying that state's national flag on the ship. UANI campaigns have systematically pressured sovereign states and their maritime agents to de-flag Iranian vessels, thereby exposing the true ownership of the Iranian vessels.

  • Barbados ceases flagging Iranian vessels November 29, 2012

    Number of IRISL/NITC Ships Flagged: 3

    UANI Campaign: November 29, 2012

    Certified to Have Withdrawn Flagging Services for Iranian Vessels: 

  • Hong Kong ceases flagging Iranian vessels November 9, 2012

    Number of IRISL/NITC Ships Flagged: 19

    UANI Campaign: November 9, 2012

    Certified to Have Withdrawn Flagging Services for Iranian Vessels: 

  • Moldova ceases flagging Iranian vessels September 28, 2012

    Number of IRISL/NITC Ships Flagged: 12

    UANI Campaign: September 28, 2012

    Certified to Have Withdrawn Flagging Services for Iranian Vessels: 

  • Mongolia announces de-flagging of Iranian vessels September 28, 2012

    Number of IRISL/NITC Ships Flagged: 5

    UANI Campaign: September 28, 2012

    Certified to Have Withdrawn Flagging Services for Iranian Vessels: