EU Tightens Iranian Oil, Maritime Sanctions

Monday October 15, 2012

European Union (EU) governments today agreed to "significantly broadened EU restrictive measures" against Iran that include a number of further restrictions for the maritime, oil, and petrochemical industries, the Council of the European Union has said.

Vessels belonging to EU citizens or companies may no longer be used for transporting or storing Iranian oil or petrochemical products.

In addition, the involvement of EU industries in the construction of new oil tankers for Iran will no longer be permitted, and restrictions have been placed on the supply of certain naval equipment and technology for ship building and maintenance.

Flagging and classification services for Iranian oil tankers and cargo vessels has also been banned.

Council also banned the import of natural gas from the Islamic Republic into the EU, prohibited all transactions between European and Iranian banks unless they are explicitly authorised in advance, and banned the export to Iran of materials it says are relevant to the Iranian nuclear and ballistic programmes or to industries controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Nuclear Programme

The sanctions are in response to what Council says are "serious and deepening concerns over Iran's nuclear programme," and believes it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, something which it denies.

"Today we have significantly tightened our restrictive measures, targeting Iran's nuclear and ballistic programmes and the revenues of the Iranian government for these programmes," said EU's foreign policy representative, Catherine Ashton.

Western media has reported that US and EU sanctions, as well as those imposed by the UN Security Council, have done significant damage to Iran's economy, while Iranian media says the sanctions are "futile and ineffective" as well as illegal.

Earlier EU sanctions effective July 1, 2012 mean ship owners found carrying Iranian product, either as fuel or cargos, will already lose their P&I Cover.

Ship & Bunker reported on Friday that Titan Petrochemicals Group Ltd. (Titan) [HKG:1192] was the first firm to lose its cover under those sanctions, after it emerged it was using its vessels to store Iranian Crude, with a spokesman for their insurance company saying at the time that "Titan's conduct breaches the spirit if not the wording of U.S. and EU sanctions against Iran."

On Friday the European Union was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.