US warns ports against welcoming Iranian ships, following new sanctions

US warns ports against welcoming Iranian ships, following new sanctions
Insurance companies and ports across the world have been advised not to deal with Iranian shipping companies
2 min read
08 November, 2018
Trump has said he wants Iranian oil exports reduced to zero [AFP]

The US has warned ports and insurance companies to avoid dealing with Iranian ships, as new sanctions are slapped on Tehran by Washington.

The US State Department described Iranian ships as a "floating liability" due to the tough new economic penalties on Tehran.

These include steps aimed at cutting Iran's sales of oil - the country's main export - "to zero" in a bid to curtail the influence of the regime and its reach in the Middle East.

Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative on Iran policy, said that the US sanctions extended to insurers and underwriters.

"Knowingly providing these services to sanctioned Iranian shipping companies will result in the imposition of US sanctions," Hook told reporters.

"From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all choke points in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability," he said.

Iranian shipping companies will likely be forced to rely on domestic insurers but it's doubtful that they could cover losses stretching into the millions or billions of dollars in a major calamity.

"Should there be an accident involving an Iranian tanker, there is simply no way these Iranian insurance companies can cover the loss," Hook said.

But he did say that the US did not want incidents, particularly in the Gulf waters where tensions have been running high between the two navies.

"We sincerely hope there will be no accidents, but accidents are a very real possibility, given Iran's record," Hook said.

President Donald Trump announced in May that the US was withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran, which was signed by his predecessor Barack Obama resulting in sanctions relief.

However, Trump's administration said this did not curb Iran's missiles programme and support for regional proxies such as Hizballah.

The US has nonetheless granted eight waivers to places including China, India and Japan, which will not immediately be punished for continuing to buy Iranian oil.