11 August 2012

Tanzania: Zanzibar Mulls Iranian Oil Tankers Deregistration

Zanzibar — ZANZIBAR has admitted that it had registered 36 Iranian tankers flying Tanzania's flag, Second Vice-President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi informed the House on Friday saying that the government was in the process of deregistering the ships.

"We have confirmed that the crude oil tankers and container ships are indeed from Iran. The tankers were registered by Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA) through its Dubai based agent Philtex. This is unacceptable, we are in process of deregistering the ships," said Ambassador Iddi.

Moving a motion to adjourn the Zanzibar House of Representatives session to October 10 this year, the Second Vice-President said further investigations were going on to establish how the tankers were registered by ZMA and allowed to fly Tanzania flag. The lawmakers seconded the House adjournment date.

"We are also cancelling our contract with Philtex which misled us into violating the UN resolution No 1429, and the US/EU executive order. We do not want to get involved in such crisis," Ambassador Iddi said.

He said despite the punitive measures on the sea vessels, the Isles' ties with Iran remain strong.Last June, the Bloomberg News Agency reported that Zanzibar had re-registered 10 Iranian oil tankers, re-flagging Tanzania flag in efforts to dodge sanctions imposed on the Persian Gulf nation.

The news sparked international attention particularly the EU and US government who threatened to punish Tanzania. But Zanzibar, through its then minister for transport Mr Hamad Masoud downplayed the reports saying the tankers were from Cyprus and Malta.

However, the foreign Minister, Mr Bernard Membe, said Tanzania was ready to work with the US/EU to investigate the allegations. Sanctions on Iran are due to its nuclear programme, while the US and Europe argue that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at developing atomic weapons, Tehran says it is for civilian purposes.

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