DUBAI - Iran is sidestepping Western sanctions and managing to sell hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel oil every month through companies based in the US-allied United Arab Emirates, trading sources told Reuters.
The US and EU sanctions that came into force in 2012 prohibit the import, purchase and transport of Iranian petroleum products to pressure Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear program. Washington has also pressed its allies around the world to clamp down on the shipping of Iranian oil products.
But Tehran has been using innovative methods to circumvent the restrictions, several Middle East-based trading sources said.
They include tankers switching off their tracking systems, ship-to-ship transfers, discharging and loading at remote ports, blending Iranian products with fuels from another source to alter the shipment's physical specification and selling them with Iraqi-origin documents, the sources said.
The Iranian fuel oil is mainly offered from the UAE port and bunkering hub of Fujairah, through trading firms acting as middlemen for buyers who may not know the cargo is from Iran, the sources said.
The middlemen are small firms - who buy the products at below-market prices, for a bigger profit margin - rather than larger traders who would not run the risk of falling foul of US authorities and threatening their international operations.