The head of Iran’s shipping company has admitted that Western sanctions are hurting the country’s shipping industry.
"If the government was not assisting, the sanctions would have stopped a lot more of our activity," Mohammad Hussein Dajmar, managing director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), said in an interview with the Iranian business daily Jahan-e Sanat.
"If this situation continues, certainly our operations will face serious problems,” he added. “Shipping has been among the primary objectives of sanctions. The damage has had a significant bearing. More pressure will result in greater damage.”
Dajmar also revealed during the interview that IRISL had suffered a cyber attack in August 2011.
"The attack was heavy and showed that the attackers were being supported by powerful sources," he said. "There was considerable damage. A lot of pressure was imposed on us.”
"We cannot access European waters through changing flags, so we do not take the risk," Dajmar said, adding, "The IMO numbers are fixed and finding out who owns a ship is not a complicated task.... The United Nations has not barred the activity of our ships, this is only from the US and Europe."
IRISL has tried to dodge the sanctions by changing its flags and setting up front companies. The United States warned the maritime industry in July that Iranian ships were still using other countries’ flags in an attempt to evade Western sanctions against the country.
In August, Tanzania said that a shipping agent based in Dubai had reflagged 36 Iranian oil tankers with the Tanzanian flag without the country's knowledge and approval.
The country de-registered the vessels after an investigation into the origin of the ships concluded they were originally from Iran.
Dajmar told Jahan-e Sanat that out of its fleet of 165 ships, 20 were currently laid up and not trading.
Dajmar claimed that IRISL did not work for any Iranian military agencies. "It's been years that we do not work with them. They don't have such large needs and any needs that they do have they produce domestically," he said.
The new measures ban dealing with Iran’s banks above a pre-set “relatively low” threshold and also affect trade and gas imports.