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Focus on Panama

US asks Panama to de-flag ships evading Iran sanctions

Photo: US State Department Abram Paley US State Department
The US State Department Special Envoy for Iran, Abram Paley called on Panama to de-flag Iranian tanker vessels, suspected to evading sanctions imposed by Washington.

According to Paley, at least six Panama-flagged ships have allegedly violated sanctions since January. as carrying Iranian oil in violation of international sanctions, and whose sales are used to finance terrorism in the region.

"Iran and its affiliated groups are trying to evade sanctions here in Panama, they are trying to abuse the flag registration of ships,” Paley.

The US envoy explained that he was visiting Panama to ask the authorities to remove the Panama flag from vessels that fail to comply with sanctions imposed against Tehran.

"We are here in Panama to coordinate with the Panamanian government in our joint effort to ensure that the vessel registry is not abused by entities seeking to evade our sanctions on Iran," Paley told a press conference.

Paley's visit appears to be a response to letters to the State Department signed by more than 20 senators led by Bob Casey (Democrat) and Marco Rubio (Republican), who on 11 January sent a formal note to the HPA's Department of Resolutions and Consultations, Segumar's Panama City office, with a copy to Panama's ambassador in Washington, Ramón Martínez, calling on the agency to investigate 189 Panamanian-flagged vessels suspected of transporting Iranian oil in violation of US sanctions.

 The US suspects that some of these vessels may be used by Iran to transport oil or oil products to avoid sanctions, which could be used to finance pro-Iranian groups that Washington considers terrorists.