Last week’s brief detention of two alleged Chinese tankers transporting Iranian liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was prompted by their ostensibly breaching Washington’s anti-Iranian sanctions, Bloomberg quoted a Hanover-based lender as saying.
Norddeutsche Landesbank-Girozentrale, known as NordLB, accused the tankers’ owners of defaulting on a $30 million mutual mortgage agreement.
In documents filed in the High Court of Singapore last month, NordLB said that the tankers allegedly “turned off their transponders, which usually publicly broadcast their locations, when approaching the Strait of Hormuz and then turned them on again several days later when they were laden with fuel”.
The bank added that the London P&I Club, a ship owners’ association that provides protection and indemnity insurance, had notified NordLB that that coverage on the tankers would be terminated. Both the bank and the owners of the tankers have yet to comment on the matter.
Late last month, Lloyd’s List, an industry news publication, reported that the two vessels carrying Iranian crude which were detained earlier by Singapore have been released.
The Sea Dragon and Gas Infinity vessels were allegedly identified as LPG tankers owned by the Hong Kong company Kunlun Shipping, with possible links to the Chinese company Kunlun Holdings.
In a separate development, the New York Times reported last week about an ever-increasing number of Iranian tankers transporting oil to China and some other countries.
The newspaper cited sources as saying that at least 12 Iranian tankers have loaded and shipped oil across the Indian Ocean to China, as well as all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean, possibly to Syria and Turkey, since 2 May, in defiance of US sanctions against Tehran.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri has, meanwhile, urged China and other Iranian allies to purchase more Iranian crude despite the fact that they “are facing some restrictions”.
This came as signatories to the Iran deal met in Vienna for an emergency meeting, during which Chinese delegation head Fu Cong reiterated Beijing’s commitment to the agreement. Cong, the Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, also condemned the hard line US stance against Iran, saying that all signatories have expressed their rejection of the unilateral US sanctions and particularly oppose the extraterritorial use of the sanctions.
On 8 May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Washington has subsequently subject almost all major economic sectors of Iran to sanctions, vowing to drive Iranian oil exports to zero and demanding that other countries cease any oil purchases from Iran.
The White House also announced the decision not to reissue waivers on Iranian oil after their expiry.