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Russia, Sierra Leone Rally Behind Iran Maritime Sanctions

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

20 September 2012

Sierra Leone and a Russian classification company are among the latest entities to distance themselves from Iranian shipping companies as pressure mounts on nations to adhere to international trade restrictions imposed under a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Sierra Leone recently confirmed that the nation's registry had been used by the Iranian state shipping company, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), in a bid to circumvent the trading restrictions. An investigation to scrutinize the ownership of registered craft was initiated by authorities after a Sierra Leone-registered vessel was seized in Lebanon stowing a shipment of arms bound for Syria. IRISL purportedly used third parties to apply for its container ships to use the nation's flag to mask their Iranian ownership.

The news comes after another African nation, Tanzania announced last month that it had de-registered 36 ships with Iranian interests which the government said had been inadvertently admitted onto the nation's shipping register.

Following a heightened crackdown on Iranian-owned vessels, it has become increasingly more difficult for illegitimate Iranian operators to obtain the certification necessary to call at major ports. In a move to support this international effort, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, an international classification society established in 1913 with 100 offices worldwide, also announced in September that it had discontinued work with Iranian shipping companies, and had withdrawn from inspection activities in the nation.

Under the UN Security Council Resolution: "All States shall require their nationals, persons subject to their jurisdiction and firms incorporated in their territory or subject to their jurisdiction to exercise vigilance when doing business with entities incorporated in Iran or subject to Iran’s jurisdiction, including those of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, and any individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, and entities owned or controlled by them, including through illicit means, if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that such business could contribute to Iran’s proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems or to violations of [previous resolutions]."

The Council has affirmed that it would only "suspend the sanctions if, and so long as, Iran suspended all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to allow for good-faith negotiations."

TAGS: marine

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