LONDON - Iran is using old tankers, saved from the scrapyard by foreign middlemen, to ship out oil to China in ways that avoid Western sanctions, say officials involved with sanctions who showed Reuters corroborating documents.
The officials, from states involved in imposing sanctions to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program, said the tankers - worth little more than scrap value - were a new way for Iran to keep its oil exports flowing by exploiting the legal limitations on Western powers' ability to make sanctions stick worldwide.
Officials showed Reuters shipping documents to support their allegation that eight ships, each of which can carry close to a day's worth of Iran's pre-sanctions exports, have loaded Iranian oil at sea. Publicly available tracking and other data are consistent with those documents and allegations.
"The tankers have been used for Iranian crude," one official said. "They are part of Iran's sanctions-busting strategy."