Business, Freight News, Sea

Iran line continues to call in Europe – for now

[ February 20, 2012   //   ]

Ships belonging to Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) are continuing to call at EU ports despite tougher sanctions imposed in July 2010 over Tehran’s nuclear programme, according to a report by Reuters. However, sanctions against the operator may begin to tighten, it says.

The report stated that 23 ships have visited 12 ports in the EU a total of 149 times including 96 visits to Malta, 14 to Antwerp, and 10 to Rotterdam.

However, the authorities in Malta and Cyprus have said that they will shortly begin to de-list the total of 60 IRISL vessels registered in those countries.

According to Reuters, the Malta authorities say trade with Iran has however been declining steeply, with exports down to €145,000 in 2010 from more than €2 million in 2008 and 2009. Joseph Cole, the chairman of the Maltese sanctions monitoring board, said a contract between IRISL and Malta Freeport will not expire until November 2013, but intensive customs inspections had already driven the shipping line away. “We have made it so difficult for IRISL ships that they have reduced their operation to Malta to almost nil – even though technically they can still come,” he was quoted as saying.

Reuters added that an employee at the Royal-Med Shipping Agency based in Sliema on Malta, and which had been the line’s main agent, was in the process of closing down. It had come under direct US sanctions.