'Panama's maritime authority has confirmed that a tanker operating under the country's flag and seized by Iran in the Persian Gulf last week for smuggling fuel, was indeed in violation of international laws.
The Panamanian Maritime Administration (AMP) on Sunday censured the use of ships chartered by Panama for illegal acts, days after Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) detained the oil tanker MT Riah when it was smuggling one million liters of Iranian fuel in the northern part of the Strait of Hormuz.
“We categorically condemn the use of vessels with a Panamanian flag for illicit acts that threaten the safety of human life,” the AMP underscored in a statement.
The statement further said that “those who clearly violate the laws, conventions and international agreements will be sanctioned and will run the risk that the ship is canceled from the Registry.”
Panamanian Ship Registry on Friday officially started withdrawing the registration of MT Riah after an investigation determined the tanker had "deliberately violated international regulations," the AMP said.
According to specialized international sites, the vessel changed its name four times between 2009 and 2019. The vessel's Dubai-based owner Prime Tankers LLC says it has sold the vessel to Mouj Al-Bahar, another Emirati company.
The latest development follows the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker claiming that it was carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.
The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was seized on July 4 as it transited through international waters off Gibraltar, which is located on Spain's southern tip.
Later that day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador in Tehran, Rob Macaire, to express its strong protest at the move. The envoy was told that the British Royal Marines’ move was tantamount to “maritime piracy.”
Reports say the seizure took place at the request of the United States, which has been bent on driving Iranian oil exports to “zero” as part of its sanctions against the Islamic Republic.'
Read more: MT Riah tanker detained by Iran was smuggling oil: Panama maritime authority