Renewed US sanctions on Iran will soon begin to really bite, as they specifically target Tehran’s lucrative oil industry. Iran’s economy is already in a state of disarray. The prospect of its oil industry being severely restricted is a reality Iran’s government can barely afford.
Nonetheless, Iran’s leaders are playing it cool in the face of oil sanctions. According to Dan Boylan in the Washington Times, Ali Kardor, head of the state-run National Iranian Oil Company said earlier this month, that Iran will press ahead with oil production. However, appearances can be deceiving. It is not ‘business as usual’ in Tehran. That is why Iran is doing anything and everything it can to mislead the world and continue exporting as much oil as it can.
As reported by Ellen Milligan in Bloomberg, Iran is secretively and furtively selling up to 200,000 barrels of undisclosed oil a day in an attempt to avert Washington’s sanctions. Apparently, Iran is employing any which way possible to avoid detection – “Discounts, bartering and smuggling are among the tactics Iran may lean on” says Milligan.
And there are concrete examples to illustrate the kind of deception at play. Writing in Forbes, Ellen Wald describes how the Iranian oil tanker Yufusan has been disguised as a Kuwaiti vessel in order to reach its destination in Japan without detection. Wald warns that the case of Yufusan “reveals just how easy it is to mask oil shipments to countries that have publicly declared an end to Iranian oil imports,” concluding that “They seek to deceive, because there is too much money at stake to be honest.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Times reports that Iran is also making widespread use of “ghost tankers,” which have increasingly appeared in the Straits of Hormuz “in a bid to sell oil secretly around the world.” The report details that the Iranian super-tanker, Happiness I, is one of seven Iranian vessels which has simply turned off its trackers in order to try to evade the US embargo.
In other words, behind Iran’s steely, defiant exterior, there is an intricate plan to pull the wool over the eyes of the world and to continue exporting oil in vast quantities. The likes of Forbes, Bloomberg and Washington Times deserve significant credit for exposing this.
However, other global media outlets must now follow suit. While the likes of Ron Bousso and Amanda Cooper at Reuters report a reduction in European purchases of Iranian oil, since President Trump announced the resumption of sanctions in May, the reality is nowhere near as straightforward. So, with oil sanctions looming large, the time has come for reporters and editors across the world to open their eyes to the Iranian shipping deception.