TANZANIA is collaborating with some friendly countries to investigate claims that there are some 17 Iranian ships that were previously registered in the Pacific Island of Tuvalu, that are flying the Tanzania flag.
Iranian tankers have been switching flag states as the United States and European Union tighten sanctions on the country over its nuclear programmes. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe made the remarks in Dar es Salaam yesterday, stressing that Tanzania has de-registered 36 vessels owned by the government on Iran.
"If we prove that there are some ships from that country flying our flags we will de-register them. We will not stop there but we will also revoke the contract with the agent that registered them," Mr Membe said in Dar es Salaam. The Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA) commissioned Dubai-based agent namely Philitex to register ocean going vessels on its behalf.
"We have also asked some ally countries to find out about Philitex and its relations with the Dubai office," Minister Membe said while addressing journalists in his office. Mid this year, it came to light that the Dubai agent had registered 36 vessels without the approval of the government of Tanzania or that of Zanzibar.
Mr Membe said the government would in collaboration with Zanzibar Revolutionary Government ensure that registration of ships is conducted after thorough investigation on the ownership of the respective vessel. The EU banned imports of Iran's oil in July under legislation that also prohibited any vessel insured in the 27-country bloc from carrying the fuel.
Minister Membe told journalists that his ministry had received letters from the American Embassy and the EU, alleging that the 36 ships that were de-registered are still flying Tanzanian flag and that there are new 17 vessels from Iran that have been registered. While the US and EU say Iran's nuclear research is a cover for developing atomic weapons, the government in Tehran contends it is for civilian purposes.