Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Iran's Secret Oil Tanker Mission

Iran's Secret Oil Tanker Mission

US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, two of the largest oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and production cuts by OPEC and Russian Federation have boosted global oil prices to near four-month highs and have made heavy crude more expensive for refiners.

U.S. sanctions against Iran were reinstated previous year after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which provided for the relief of economic sanctions against Tehran in return for Iran's pledge to keep its nuclear program peaceful.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship fuel.

The defence minister also noted that Israeli actions would be seen as "piracy" if the navy would act against Iran, according to the news agency IRNA.

"Iran uses its energy exports to exert undue influence all across the Middle East, most particularly today on Iraq".

"The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country's shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat", Hatami said.

On Friday, the navy intervened to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

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'We decided, to showcase a part of Iranian defensive and technological advances on the 40th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution in order to confront the shop-worn strategy of enemies, ' Brigadier General Amir Hatami said at a meeting with senior directors of Iran's Defense Ministry.

"We never welcome any war, but we are ready to respond to any invasion".

Mike Salthouse with the International Group, which represents companies that insure about 90 percent of the world's commercial shipping, said Western insurers were very unlikely to do business with Iranian shipping companies. South Korean officials have not commented on the situation, but Iranian officials have said that they are working on negotiations that are being affected by USA sanctions.

Iran slipped to India's seventh-biggest oil supplier in January from its position as third-biggest a year ago, before the reimposition of sanctions.

In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called Iranian vessels a "floating liability", saying the US sanctions would bar them from worldwide insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.

"Zeroing out could prove difficult" one of the sources said, adding a price of around $65 a barrel for global benchmark Brent crude was "the high end of Trump's crude price comfort zone".

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