Bipartisan Senators Urge Panama to Tighten Controls on Iranian Oil Exports

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have called on the President of Panama to close an information-sharing gap that hampers efforts to prevent Iran from using Panamanian-flagged vessels to transport oil. This bipartisan push aims to enforce U.S. sanctions imposed on Iranian oil in 2018 and 2019, which target Iran’s revenue streams used to fund terrorist organizations and other illicit activities.

Efforts to Curb Iran’s Ghost Fleet

Earlier this year, under pressure from Senators Casey and Rubio, the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) launched investigations into ships suspected of transporting Iranian oil. As a result, at least 32 such vessels have been removed from Panama’s registry. Senators believe that further information sharing from Panama about ships requesting deregistration will help limit the number of vessels transporting Iranian oil, thereby reducing Iran’s revenue.

The letter to Panama’s President Pedro Cortizo was signed by a diverse group of Senators, including John Fetterman (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Importance of Sanctions Compliance

U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil aim to cut off significant revenue sources that Iran uses to fund organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as to advance its nuclear program. The Senators’ efforts are part of a broader strategy to curb Iran’s influence and destabilizing actions in the Middle East and beyond.

Using open-source data, the nonprofit United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) identified 383 suspected “ghost fleet” vessels, with nearly half flying the Panamanian flag. Since January 2024, 189 Panamanian-flagged vessels have been under scrutiny. By urging Panama to share more information and act decisively, the Senators hope to disrupt Iran’s ability to bypass international sanctions.

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Legislative Measures

Senator Rubio introduced the Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act, co-sponsored by Senator Casey. This legislation aims to impose sanctions on those purchasing Iranian oil and was included in a recent national security supplemental package.

Potential Implications

This move could have significant implications for U.S. foreign policy and global oil markets. Strengthening enforcement of sanctions may limit Iran’s financial resources, potentially reducing its capacity to fund militant groups and nuclear activities. Additionally, it may encourage other nations to tighten their own regulatory frameworks around sanctioned goods, fostering greater international cooperation.

The call for increased vigilance and information sharing reflects a commitment to maintaining pressure on Iran while promoting peace and stability in regions affected by its actions. The bipartisan nature of this initiative underscores the unified stance of U.S. lawmakers against Iran’s destabilizing activities.

In summary, Senators Casey and Rubio, along with their colleagues, are pushing for stronger measures to ensure compliance with U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil. Their efforts highlight the importance of international cooperation in combating illicit activities and promoting global security.

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