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Iran Shipping Line to Sue EU over Irrational Sanctions

Service : Economy
TEHRAN, June 27 (ICANA) – Tehran announced on Monday that it will sue and claim compensation from the European Union for the illegal sanctions imposed by the bloc against Iran's state shipping line.
Monday, June 27, 2011 8:14:00 PM
Iran Shipping Line to Sue EU over Irrational Sanctions

According to the legal advisor of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Maryam Taher, the company has been barred from shipping in European ports.

She cautioned of her company's tough reaction to the EU's new punitive measures, and said Iran's state shipping line will file a lawsuit at the international courts to claim compensation from the European Union for imposing illegal sanctions against the IRISL.

"We believe that under the present conditions, a separate lawsuit must be filed at the court to claim compensation from the EU," Taher said.

Last month the EU targeted over 30 IRISL holding companies as part of a wider sanctions campaign led by Western states aimed mostly at forcing Tehran to curb its nuclear energy drive.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Sanctions have also caused several IRISL vessels to be temporarily seized in foreign ports. The latest clampdown, on its affiliates overseas, pushed a major British shipping agency that used to represent IRISL, Johnson Stevens Agencies Ltd, into administration.

"Since the cancellation of P&I insurance coverage on the company's vessels by European and British insurers with the intention of grounding the company's fleet nationally and internationally failed, the European Union, in an unjust move, put on its sanctions list some of the companies that had commercial cooperation with the IRISL," Mohammad Hossein Dajmar, IRISL's managing director, told Reuters in a written response last month.

"This is in the face of the fact that the EU has not presented any proof or document signifying any wrongdoing by the IRISL for intensification of the sanctions. This goes to indicate the sheer political nature of the recent sanctions.

"We are currently pursuing the EU sanctions issue through the European Court of Justice and if the case follows a normal course, the outcome may very well surprise the sanctioning parties," Dajmar said.

Five IRISL cargo ships were impounded in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malta last year when European banks demanded early repayment of loans. They were released after several months when the line repaid the loans.

Dajmar said in January the loans had been called in early due to the banks' understanding that the vessels no longer had valid insurance, amid tightened financial sanctions on Iran.

He told Reuters that insurance was no longer a problem as Iranian insurers and the Central Bank had stepped in.

"The establishment of an Iranian P&I through a consortium made up of all Iranian insurers through a $1 billion guarantee fund provided by the Central Bank of Iran is one of the measures to overcome that (problem)," Dajmar said. "Consequently, the company's fleet does not have any problem in that respect."

Dajmar rejected accusations by EU and US authorities that IRISL might be involved in illegal arms shipments.

"As the country's and the region's biggest marine carrier, IRISL is involved in the transportation of legal cargoes in compliance with the provisions of relevant international conventions," he said.

"So far, despite various rounds of sanctions by the United States, Europe and some of their allies, there has been as yet no proof or document submitted to indicate any illegal activity," he reiterated.

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