Iranian oil tankers skirt sanctions by turning off tracking

In the wake of the recent failed missile test in North Korea, cracks are also forming in U.S. and European efforts to contain access to nuclear technology on the other side of the continent.

Reuters reports that Iranian oil tankers have been circumventing sanctions against the country by operating without the normal electronic tracking and identification equipment, allowing them to transport oil to clients secretly.

Of the 39 oil ships that make up Iran's tanker fleet, only nine are currently operating with their black boxes active, allowing the AIS Live tracking system to monitor them.

"People are being very secretive right now. They are not talking about this on email, Yahoo or mobile," the head of the crude oil desk at one top oil trading house told Reuters.

This practice has helped subvert the sanctions against Iran, making it difficult for Western nations to determine how much oil Iran is actually selling. While the country has been forced to offer generous discounts and insure its own ships, the result is a steady source of crucial income for the country.

The Associated Press reports talks regarding Iran's nuclear program began over the weekend, helping to ease some of the concerns about oil production.

Analyses of Iran's oil industry can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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