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Iranian-linked ships purged from Panama’s ship registry

An oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran, on July 2, 2012. Iran has come up with several methods to foil the European insurance embargo on ships loaded with its crude, a sanction which may harm its vital exports as much as the EU oil embargo itself. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/GettyImages)

The Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP) is cooperating closely with the United States to support U.S. sanctions on Iran, and has stripped 59 Iranian-linked ships of their right to fly the Panamanian flag. The move will make it harder for Iran to deliver oil to ports around the world.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela issued a Presidential Decree on February 4 that gave the AMP the legal backing to deflag ships linked to terrorism finance. Subsequently, the AMP deflagged 59 Iranian ships on its registry for their links to financing terrorism and threatening international peace and security. The Seatrade Maritime News reported that Panamanian consuls around the world have been instructed not to accept any payments from vessels coming from Iran or its shipping companies.

Panama’s flag registry is the largest in the world, with more than 8,000 vessels worldwide operating under its flag.

The National Iranian Tanker Company registered more than 50 of its vessels in Panama after the United States lifted sanctions in 2016 under the Iran nuclear deal. The United States reimposed sanctions after pulling out of the deal in May 2018.

Countries and businesses can be hit with U.S. sanctions if they continue doing business with Iranian banks, airlines, shipping companies and other entities.

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