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UANI Calls on Moldova to Stop Reflagging Iranian Vessels

By MarEx 2012-09-20 15:07:15

On Thursday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on the Republic of Moldova to immediately stop its reflagging of Iranian shipping vessels.

As the international community imposes a shipping blockade against the Iranian regime, Moldova has stepped in and been extensively reflagging Iranian vessels. Moldova has reflagged as many as 11 vessels owned, managed, or operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its affiliated entities, at the same time that nations such as Sierra Leone, Tuvalu and Tanzania have made the responsible decision to stop flagging such vessels.

UANI is now calling on Moldova to join, not counteract, the international effort to isolate the Iranian regime. UANI has also notified Moldova that it is risking being sanctioned and/or jeopardizing its trade relations with the U.S.

In a letter sent September 14 to Nicolae Timofti, President of Moldova, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:

... Following the responsible decisions made by the governments of Sierra Leone, Tuvalu, and Tanzania to de-flag Iranian vessels, Moldova remains one of the few outlying countries that IRISL and the Iranian regime can rely on for ship flagging services. UANI calls on the Republic of Moldova to follow the lead of these responsible members of the international community and cease the flagging of all Iranian vessels.

Further, the government of Moldova should be aware of recently enacted U.S. sanctions that could seriously affect U.S.- Moldova trade relations should Moldova continue to partner with IRISL. For example, Executive Order 13608 permits the sanctioning of foreign persons known to engage in activities intended to evade U.S. economic and financial sanctions. Through its reflagging of IRISL vessels, the Republic of Moldova has "...violated, attempted to violate, conspired to violate, or caused a violation of any license, order, regulation, or prohibition contained in, or issued pursuant to...the extent such conduct relates to property and interests in property of any person subject to United States sanctions concerning Iran or Syria..."

In addition, on August 10, 2012, President Obama signed into law the "Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012," which will impose sanctions on nations that assist Iran in evading existing sanctions. Specifically, Section 202 calls for the sanctioning of any person, including any government, that "owns, operates, or controls the vessel, in a manner that conceals the Iranian origin of crude oil or refined petroleum products transported on the vessel, including by-(i) permitting the operator of the vessel to suspend the operation of the vessel's satellite tracking device; or (ii) obscuring or concealing the ownership, operation, or control of the vessel by-(I) the Government of Iran; (II) the National Iranian Tanker Company or the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines; or (III) any other entity determined by the President to be owned or controlled by the Government of Iran or an entity specified in subclause (II)."

Further, Section 211 calls for the sanctioning of any person, including any government, that "knowingly sells, leases, or provides a vessel or provides insurance or reinsurance or any other shipping service for the transportation to or from Iran of goods that could materially contribute to the activities of the Government of Iran with respect to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or support for acts of international terrorism."

The prominent shipping services Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, and ClassNK recently stopped certifying Iranian vessels in response to UANI.

UANI has highlighted the shipping industry as an area where the international community can further pressure Iran. In a March 17 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, six UANI board members wrote that "the world must deny Iran's access to international shipping, a move that would severely affect the regime given its dependence on global trade and seaborne crude oil exports."

Click here to read the full text of the letter.