US Senate set to tighten Iran sanctions

Asian states reluctant to cooperate

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Posted on: 
31 Jan 2012
US Senate set to tighten Iran sanctions

The US Senate Banking Committee was preparing to vote on a new round of sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector on Tuesday, with the hope of clamping down even further on the money available to the Islamic Republic’s renegade nuclear program. "Iran's continuing defiance of its international legal obligations and refusal to come clean on its nuclear program underscore the need to further isolate Iran and its leaders," said Senator Tim Johnson, a sponsor of the legislation. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in mid-December. But even as the new sanctions make progress towards becoming US law, reports have surfaced that Iran has found many new ways to circumvent existing measures, including by renaming and repainting cargo vessels and tankers and registering them in foreign countries, allowing them to move weapons, oil, nuclear-related equipment and other contraband around the globe.

The information on Iran’s smuggling efforts was included in a comprehensive report on global incidents of illegal trafficking in weapons and narcotics published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday. According to the report, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) has renamed a total of 90 out of its 123 ships since 2008.  “The Iranian ships are being shuffled like a deck of cards in a Las Vegas casino,” explained Hugh Griffiths, of SIPRI. “There is a constant game of cat and mouse being played and the renaming and reflagging of vessels of different states is a way of trying to avoid inspection because of sanctions.”

Meanwhile, India and several other Asian countries have expressed reluctance to join in the international campaign to boycott Iranian oil.

"You know Iran is an important supplier of petroleum crude," Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently told reporters in Chicago. "We import around 105 million tons of crude per year. It is increasing. The last import last year was 105-106 million tons imported. Iran contributes substantially…and it is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the import from Iran drastically."


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