Joe Biden’s loose enforcement of official U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime saw illegal exports of oil shoot up by 40 percent last year. China and Syria were the top importers of Iranian oil.
Since Biden began negotiations with Iran about restarting the nuclear deal brokered initially by Barack Obama and terminated by President Donald Trump while running for reelection in 2020. According to the watchdog group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), since 2020, Iran’s oil exports have gone up by 123 million barrels.
UANI reported that China imported 310 million barrels of crude oil and gas condensates from Iran between January and September 2021. That total is greater than Iranian exports to all other nations combined in 2021, when Iran shipped more than 417 million barrels internationally. After China, the subsequent largest purchasers of oil from Iran were the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Venezuela, and Russia.
The sharp increase in Iranian exports comes as American sanctions remain nominally in place and as the Biden Administration negotiates with the regime on a revised nuclear agreement. The increased exports have certainly provided the Iranian government with desperately needed cash that helps fund regional terrorism and support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and the rebels in Yemen.
The Iranian regime uses a “ghost armada” of ships displaying the flags of other countries to avoid detection by international authorities. Iran’s ships regularly disable onboard tracking equipment in violation of law to prevent radar detection in international waters.
A UANI spokesperson said the Biden Administration should sanction vessels illegally transporting Iranian oil. UANI has blacklisted several such ships with international maritime authorities.
With pressure from UANI, Tanzania’s Zanzibar Maritime Authority revoked permits for 11 ships transporting illegal Iranian oil last year. In Norway and the U.K., authorities have canceled permits or insurance for dozens of others.
The U.S. State Department has said that it is continuing diplomatic efforts with Iran to secure a new nuclear agreement even as it claims to monitor the possibility of illegal shipments on the global oil market.