Daily Israel Report

Report: Iran 'Outfoxing' Sanctions With Dead-of-Night Oil Sales

Iran has found a way to outsmart the sanctions against selling their oil overseas.
By David Lev
First Publish: 9/13/2012, 10:58 AM

Crude oil tanker
Crude oil tanker
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Western sanctions against Iran have apparently been doing their job. Iran's currency, the real, continued its freefall spiral downward in value. The Iranian currency on Monday alone lost 8% of its value against the dollar. Currently, the exchange rate is 26,400 reals per dollar. Monday's drop followed a fall of 7% in the value of the currency on Sunday.

But still Iran survives financially – and that may be, say experts, because Iran has found a way to outsmart the sanctions against selling their oil overseas. An investigation by Reuters shows that Iran is using a small, out of the way port off the coast of East Malaysia to store millions of barrels of oil. The oil is loaded onto ostensibly “empty” ships, with workers supplying ships from Asian countries with Iranian oil under cover of night. The ships operate under Panamanian flags, and are docked in the tax-haven port of Labuan, an offshore financial center about the size of Manhattan, Reuters said.

The investigation was based on ship movements, bills of lading examined by Reuters reporters, freight information, and other data. In one instance, investigators discovered a Chinese ship that had secretly taken on about six million barrels of crude oil.

Sanctions by Europe and the U.S. banned sales of Iranian oil to the West, but Asian countries generally have no such restrictions, nor has the United Nations or other international organizations imposed a total ban on Iranian oil sales. However, China and other Asian countries are under a great deal of pressure from the West to at least limit their business with Iran, and the hidden oil business shows the effectiveness of that pressure, as well as the growing desperation of Iran as the sanctions cut deeper in the Iranian economy, experts said.