Malta complications if France joins U.S. sanctions of IRISL
U.S. sanctions imposed last week against an Iranian ocean carrier and its international subsidiaries may have had more bark than bite to them.
But if France joins the U.S. Treasury Department in sanctioning the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, it may have further reaching implications. France is pushing for more U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran after Tehran blocked a U.N. investigation into claims that it is trying to produce nuclear weapons. The Treasury Department’s allegations against IRISL suggest that the Iranian steamship line may have been helping to illegally proliferate weapons trade to the Middle East nation. Among the allegations were that IRISL falsified shipping documents.
“Not only does IRISL facilitate the transport of cargo for U.N. designated proliferators, it also falsifies documents and uses deceptive schemes to shroud its involvement in illicit commerce,” said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, when the sanctions were announced 10 days ago. “IRISL’s actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile programs.
Last week, IRISL and Tehran blasted the sanctions, saying they were baseless and that they would have little impact on IRISL’s business since it has no dealings with American companies and no bank accounts or assets in the United States.
But similar sanctions by France could complicate the issue for IRISL. For instance, the carrier is one of the biggest customers at Malta’s freeport. Since one of the IRISL subsidiaries is based in Malta and has Maltese shareholders, that company would be subject to the sanctions. French company CMA CGM operates the Malta Freeport, meaning it would have to turn away IRISL business, the Malta Independent reported Sunday.
For now, it’s just speculation, but the Treasury Department’s actions against IRISL could be more substantial than first thought.