Tanzania protests over Iranian ships re-registering
A Dubai shipping agent has re-registered 36 Iranian oil tankers and container ships with the Tanzanian flag without the government's knowledge, local media in Dar Es Salaam reported on Sunday.
According to Tanzania second Vice-President Seif Ali Iddi, the ships were given the country's flag via a Dubai shipping agent known as Philtex. It did not seek the government's approval, Iddi told the Tanzania Daily News.
"We have confirmed that the crude oil tankers and container ships are indeed from Iran," Iddi said, dpa reported.
"The tankers were registered by Zanzibar Maritime Authority through its Dubai based agent Philtex. This is unacceptable, we are in the process of deregistering the ships," he said.
The practice of flying flags of convenience, typically from countries such as Panama, Liberia or the Bahamas, makes ships subject to the legislation, environmental and labour laws of that foreign nation. It is often a cost-saving measure designed to reduce lengthy registration periods and millions of dollars in annual tonnage fees.
In Iran's case, it also allows the country to operate under the cover of a foreign nation's flag, flouting European Union and US sanctions designed to pressure it into halting its controversial nuclear programme.
Earlier this year, Washington criticized the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu for reflagging 22 Iranian oil tankers.