Iran helping Russia outsmart punishing Western sanctions by using its ‘ghost armada’

Russia TV host says 'everything will be destroyed in nuclear strike'

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Researchers from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an international nonprofit organisation, have reported the latest scheme to keep Putin’s dictatorship from falling into economic chaos. This includes a fleet of black-market vessels to get around bans by the US, UK and EU on Russian oil exports. The researchers are urging the West to form a “ghostbusters” team to crack down on the mysterious ships.

UANI identified 70 foreign ships suspected of involvement in the illicit transfer of Iranian crude oil and petroleum, avoiding sanctions against Iran.

The researchers saw this number soar to 203 a year later.

They describe the ships as “exploiting regulatory loopholes” to get around sanctions.

One such strategy is “flag hopping”, in which the ships repeatedly switches their flag to different national registries.

This can also be accompanied by creating new shell and front companies, as well as registering new owners and names, all to avoid being identified as Iranian oil.

The researchers add: “Certain vessel owners are intentionally exploiting flag registries, many of which do not have the capabilities to track the history of vessels or even perform what ought to be rudimentary compliance scans.”

The boats also reportedly use “spoofing” to avoid trade sanctions.

This strategy involves faking their location on GPS transponders, so they appear to be anchored at sea.

However, they are actually loading and unloading at ports.

In March, the Wall Street Journal reported Iran has conducted “billions of dollars” annually in trade despite United States “maximum pressure” sanctions.

UANI now claims they have identified at least five of Iran’s “ghost armada” transporting oil from Russia to China and India.

Sir Ivor Roberts, a UANI adviser and former head of counter-terrorism at the Foreign Office, said: “Putin’s Russia has taken a leaf from Iran’s playbook with the employment of the Ayatollah’s “ghost armada” to transport oil around the globe.

“This is increasingly a necessity for the Kremlin-backed oil companies which need to keep the money flowing into Russia.

“The alliance opposed to Russia needs to get a grip on this trade if we’re to bring Putin to the negotiating table.”

On March 23, The Telegraph cited security sources about Iran’s secret offer to help Russia evade the impact of Western sanctions in return for getting “Moscow’s backing for a new nuclear deal”.

The source claims Iran offered to use its sanctions-evading structure to help Russia sell its oil, as long as the nuclear deal is signed and sanctions are lifted by Russia themselves.

In response, a Iranian government-controlled media outlet quoted an “informed source” with Iran’s Foreign Ministry, who said: “The claim by the Daily Telegraph that Iran and Russia have reached a secret agreement on the JCPOA and [Western] sanctions [on Russia] is merely an instance of news fabrication”.

The source added that such reports are made by Western security circles as part of their psychological warfare.

Iran has not officially denied the claims of a “ghost armada” or helping Russia evade sanctions.

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