US Lawmaker Asks Tanzania to Cancel Reflagging Iranian Vessels

Mr Hamad
A top U.S. lawmaker called for Tanzania’s president to cancel the country’s re-flagging of Iranian vessels under the country’s own flag.

In a letter sent to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Rep. Howard Berman (D., Calif.) said Tanzania has allowed the National Iranian Tanker Co. to re-flag at least six, and as many as 10, of its vessels with the Tanzanian ship registry, allowing it to continue to transport Iranian crude exports, effectively assisting Iran with evading U.S. and European Union sanctions.

“It is profoundly disappointing to me to learn that your government has acted in contravention of the broad international coalition that is working together to use peaceful means, including economic sanctions, to change the threatening behavior of the Iranian regime.

The decision to accept the re-flagging of NITC vessels casts a shadow over Tanzania’s international reputation,” Berman wrote in the letter.

Berman said in the letter that the re-flagging is, in his view, conduct that could make Tanzania subject to U.S. sanctions under an executive order signed May 1 by President Barack Obama that targets those who help Iran or Syria evade sanctions.

He also said if Tanzania continues to allow NITC ships to operate under a Tanzanian flag, Congress “would have no choice” but to consider the range of U.S. bilateral programs with Tanzania.

A representative from the Tanzanian mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the Citizen reported two days ago that the Zanzibar government confirmed it had registered 11 oil tanker companies which were formerly registered in Malta and Cyprus and accused the media of misleading the public.

Earlier this week some newspapers, including The Citizen, published reports that an Iranian oil tanker company had renamed at least 10 of its vessels and replaced their flags with Tanzanian ones, news that sent shock waves through the country’s leadership.

A statement read by Zanzibar minister for Infrastructure and Communication Hamad Masoud Hamad yesterday to the House of Representatives said owners of the eleven companies were nationals of British Virgin Islands and Seychelles.

He named the ships as Daisy with a gross register tonnage (GRT) of 81479 registered in Malta, Justice (GRT 164241) registered in Cyprus, Magnolia (GRT 81479) also formerly registered in Malta.

Other ships are Courage (GRT 163660) owned by Courage Shipping Co. Ltd, Freedom  (GRT 163660) also owned by Freedom shipping Co. Ltd, Valor (GRT 160930) owned by Valor Shipping Co. Ltd and Leadership (GRT 164241) owned by Leadership Shipping Co. Ltd. All these were formerly registered in Cyprus.

Mr Hamad also named Companion (GRT 164241) owned by Companion Shipping Co. Ltd, Camellia (GRT 81479) owned by Camellia Shipping Co. Ltd, Clove (GRT 81479) owned by Clove Shipping Co. Ltd and Lantana (GRT 81479) owned by Lantana Shipping Co. Ltd, all were formerly registered in Malta.

The minister quoted the Zanzibar Maritime Transport Act 2006, Section 8, which states that there will be establishment of a Tanzania Zanzibar International Register of Shipping for ocean going ships; and Tanzania Zanzibar Register of Shipping for coastal ships to justify the registration.

However, Mr Hamad said that deregistration of ships was not a new thing, adding that other 20 oil tankers from European countries have also deregistered and acquired registration at Tuvalu Islands.

“ZMA asked its agent, Philtex Corporation from Dubai, to ask the owners of the deregistered ships about their relationship with the Iranian government….our agent met the owners on Thursday and they declared that they did not have any relationship with any Iranian authority,” the minister noted.
Source: Wall Street Journal, http://blogs.wsj.com, reported by Samuel Rubenfeld

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