Thu. Aug 22nd, 2019

Panama has begun the process of withdrawing the registration of the oil tanker which strayed into Iranian waters

The maritime authority of Panama has initiated the process of withdrawing the registration of the oil tanker MT Riah, which ended up in Iranian waters after it vanished from ship tracking maps in the Strait of Hormuz on 14th of July.

The authority stated that the flag-withdrawal process was initiated by Panama on Friday after an investigation revealed that the tanker had purposely violated international regulations by not reporting any strange situation.

We utterly condemn the use of Panamanian flagged ships for unlawful activities,” it stated.

Panama, which has the world’s largest shipping fleet, has lately withdrawn flags from dozens of vessels, a few of which were operated by Iran. It is still vague which country or firm owns and operates the Riah.

The most recent development followed the British capture of an Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, which according to London was suspected of violating European Union sanctions on Syria.

Sanctions against the Bashir al Assad regime were there to be enforced & international law upheld, the United Kingdom argued. There seemed a bit iffy, given its indirect route, that the ship was bound for Syria.

Panama stated that on 29th of May, Grace 1 was removed from its registry.

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, labeled the seizure of ship as ‘piracy’ and Iran threatened to take revenge.

On Friday two British-linked ships were seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian forces took control of the ships which had Britain’s flag on them, Stena Impero, & directed it to Bandar Abbas, an Iranian port, where it remains. A second ship which showed the flag of Liberia but British operated tanker, the Mesdar, was also captured for several hours by Iranian forces on Friday. It made a diversion from its planned course suddenly and started moving towards the Iranian coast before seemingly turning off its tracking signal.

According to Iran’s semi-official news agency, ISNA stated that the ship came to the assistance of the MT Riah after it experienced mechanical issues.

United States’ officials stated that they are doubtful whether the tanker was captured by Iran or rescued.