Iran's vice president for legal affairs Mohammad Dehghan

Iran Warns Of Reciprocal Action Amid US Seizures Of Ships

Thursday, 02/15/2024

The legal advisor to Iran's president, Mohammad Dehghan, issued a warning on Thursday, stating that Iran would reciprocate if its ships were seized by the US for sanctions evasion.

On February 2, the US Department of Justice announced charges related to terrorism and sanctions evasion, along with seizures linked to a billion-dollar oil trafficking network allegedly financing Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other militant groups.

The department highlighted recent attacks attributed to Iran-backed militants, such as the October 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel and an attack in Jordan over the weekend that resulted in the death of three US soldiers. These incidents have drawn increased attention to Iran's illicit oil trade, according to the DOJ.

In addition to announcing charges, the DOJ reported seizing more than 520,000 barrels of Iranian oil aboard the crude tanker Abyss, which were covered by US sanctions.

"If an Iranian ship is seized, we will reciprocate and the legal way is not closed in this regard," legal adviser Dehghan said, adding that he was not able to confirm whether US authorities had seized an Iranian vessel.

In the face of international sanctions, Iran has developed intricate strategies to navigate its oil trade and circumvent restrictions. Despite facing severe limitations on conventional banking channels and trading platforms, Iran has resorted to various methods to sustain its oil exports.
One approach which has proven invaluable involves barter arrangements with allies such as China, where Iran trades its oil directly for goods and services, bypassing the need for traditional currency transactions. Additionally, Iran has leveraged alternative payment mechanisms and intermediary entities to skirt sanctions and facilitate oil transactions. 
By utilizing unconventional routes and channels, including cryptocurrency and front companies such as those in the UAE and Turkey, Iran has obscured the origins and destinations of its oil shipments, making it challenging for international authorities to monitor and enforce sanctions effectively. 

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