News From Parliament
- Published on Friday, 17 August 2012 03:16
- Written by MARIAM SAID in Dodoma
- Hits: 1128
THE government has confirmed to have deregistered 36 Iranian oil tankers flying Tanzania's flag to dodge sanctions, the National Assembly was told here.
The Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, said the decision to strip the ships of the Tanzanian flag was because the move to reflag them was not approved by the government.
Reflagging Iranian oil tankers allowed Tehran to evade sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union because of its nuclear programme. Swapping a ship's flag to that of a different nation not facing sanctions facilitates easier movement of the vessel.
Mr Pinda said after exhaustive investigations, it was established that the government of Tanzania had never approved the operation of such oil tankers in the country. Responding to Mbarouk Rajab Mohamed (Ole - CUF), during the routine weekly prime minister's questions time, Mr Pinda said the tankers have now been officially deregistered.
He said Tanzania launched investigations last month following accusations that the country was helping Iran to dodge sanctions. Mr Pinda said it was later verified that reflagging ships masked their ownership.
He said it was further discovered that the vessels were registered by the agent, Philtex Corporation, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He made it clear that stern measures have already been taken including the terminating agent's contract in the interest of the country.
Philtex Corporation executives have, however, been quoted in United Arab Emirates media as denying having registered any Iranian vessels under a flag of convenience.
But on Friday, last week, Zanzibar's Second Vice-President Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi told the House of Representatives, that the authorities had investigated and confirmed "that 36 crude oil tankers and container ships flying the Tanzania flag are indeed from Iran."
The tankers were registered by Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA) through Philtex, Amb. Iddi said, adding that the government was deregistering all the ships and also annulling the "contract with Philtex for misleading us."
On July 1 the EU began banning oil imports as well as the provision of insurance for vessels carrying Iranian oil. The United States has also put in place new economic sanctions that have curbed Iranian oil imports by many nations. But the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) changed the names and flags of many of its vessels ahead of the EU ban.