EU considering complete ban on Iranian shipping line
The European Union is debating a complete ban on the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines as part of a new round of sanctions in response to Teheran’s nuclear programme.
The loading and unloading of IRISL ships in EU ports will be illegal, according to a draft European Council regulation.
“It shall be prohibited,” the regulation states, “to load or unload cargo on and from vessels owned or chartered by IRISL or by such entities in ports of member states.”
The EU is targeting both the container line and associated companies.
The law, if approved, will effectively banish IRISL from Europe and will affect transhipment hubs such as Malta, where IRISL traffic accounts for between five and 10 per cent of the Freeport’s turnover of trans-shipment cargo. Iran’s shipping line also provides important links for domestic (local market) imports and exports to and from South East Asia, the Middle East and a number of Mediterranean ports.
According to the draft regulation, IRISL vessels will be able to continue calling in the EU. There is no requirement for the ships to be impounded; neither do crew need to be detained. But unlike previous legislation, this time EU law-makers are targeting the line’s cargo.
Last July the EU imposed new restrictions on Iran in the areas of foreign trade, financial services and the oil and gas sectors, and gave the go-ahead for increased inspections of Iranian vessels. More than 40 individuals and 50 companies were blacklisted as a result of the EU sanctions.
However, the EU had decided against a ban of IRISL operating in EU territory, even though this was originally considered. Foreign Minister Tonio Borg had told The Times Business that the EU’s measures against Iran were a compromise between the member states.
“The EU increased its sanctions on Iran in a number of sectors including shipping. Malta and a number of countries argued that it made more sense to have more stringent inspections of vessels belonging to Iran’s shipping line than to ban these ships from EU territory,” he had said.
However, Dr Borg had also said that the EU sanctions would be reviewed and “could go either way” depending on Iran’s behaviour over its nuclear programme.
The EU sanctions were imposed in the hope that Iran would resume negotiations about its nuclear activities and stop its enrichment of uranium.
The United Nations Security Council also recently imposed additional sanctions against Iran which include restrictions on IRISL such as in bunkering and financing. The United States has its own unilateral trade, travel and financial sanctions against Iran.
So far economic sanctions have not stopped Iran from continuing with its nuclear programme and its enrichment of uranium, which Teheran insists is for peaceful purposes.