“Hong Kong hosts a number of sanctioned IRISL front companies and is currently reflagging as many as 19 vessels owned, managed, or operated by IRISL.”
In a letter sent October 30 to Leung Chun-ying, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, UANI called on Hong Kong to end its “business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and reflagging of IRISL vessels.”
“As you should know,” UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote, “Hong Kong hosts a number of sanctioned IRISL front companies and is currently reflagging as many as 19 vessels owned, managed, or operated by IRISL.”
In response, Hong Kong’s Marine Department (HKMD) informed UANI that it has now “taken action already in notifying the owners of these 19 ships for the closure of the registration in Hong Kong within 90 days beginning from the date of the notice being served in pursuant to the Hong Kong Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance, Chapter 415.”
Significantly, HKMD cited UANI’s September 28, 2012 announcement that the Korean Register of Shipping (KR) would no longer certify Iranian vessels. Beginning in June 2012, UANI led the campaign to compel KR to end its Iran-related activities (see here, here, here).
Said HKMD: “Given KR has effectively ceased to provide services or support to the company for managing Hong Kong ships, HKMD does have concern about the safety and the quality of these ships.”
Said Ambassador Wallace today:
We applaud Hong Kong for ending its reflagging of Iranian vessels. It is increasingly becoming more difficult for Iran to make international shipments, and the regime is now feeling the pressure.
No country should be reflagging Iranian vessels, just as no company should be insuring or certifying Iranian vessels, given the risks and the stakes involved. Hong Kong's explanation for its decision shows the domino effect that has come from our shipping campaign: each time a shipping avenue for Iran is closed, others decide to follow suit.
We call on the international community to impose a complete shipping blockade on the Iranian regime.
UANI has highlighted the shipping industry as an area where the international community can further pressure Iran. In a March 17 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, six UANI board members wrote that "the world must deny Iran's access to international shipping, a move that would severely affect the regime given its dependence on global trade and seaborne crude oil exports."
In addition to KR, the prominent shipping services Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, and ClassNK have also stopped certifying Iranian vessels in response to UANI. Moldova and Mongolia have also recently ended their reflagging of Iranian vessels.