In a bid to circumvent crippling international sanctions, Iran has been routinely switching off satellite tracking systems on its sea-bound oil tankers, the Washington Post reported late on Sunday.
Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the practice has been going on for more than a month. US officials and industry analysts describe it as a cat-and-mouse game with Western governments seeking to enforce sanctions on Iranian exports, the report said. The unusual tactic was begun early last month and affects a quarter of Iran’s tanker fleet, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which has been monitoring the practice, the paper said.
The move, a violation of maritime law, is only modestly effective in hiding tankers as they ply the oceans in search of open ports and willing buyers, the Post said. However, it underscores Iran’s precarious position as it faces ever-tighter Western restrictions against its oil industry, the paper said. Iran relies on oil exports for about two-thirds of its foreign currency earnings.
The Islamic republic is the second-biggest exporter in OPEC, after Saudi Arabia. Last year, it exported 2.6 million barrels per day of the 3.5 million barrels per day it pumped out of its huge reserves.