Re: Iran ups 'ante' in poker-game with West 2 Years, 5 Months ago
Insurance is the new target in the U.S.'s anti-Iran economic sanctions game. This is actually getting silly now, and many of these initiatives are simply a way for petty politicians to puff up their chest and brag about "what they did in the War".
Understand that only the WEST is paying any attention to these sanctions, and when it comes to insurance, where do you want to go for coverage: to the insolvent, corrupt paper-pushers in the West, or the rising, solvent (relatively honest) East?
"Global Insurers Targeted in Latest U.S. Bid to Expand Sanctions on Iran"
U.S. lawmakers are targeting global insurers as they seek to expand sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy and forcing its leaders to make concessions involving the country’s disputed nuclear program.
Proposed legislation by Representative Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, and Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, would penalize underwriters that insure or reinsure any deals with Iran prohibited under U.S. law, including oil and gas investments or insurance for companies or banks that are subject to U.S. sanctions.
The draft, obtained yesterday, may be introduced in the House this week and offered as an amendment to a Senate Banking Committee bill involving other Iran sanctions as early as next week, Sherman said in an e-mail.
The measure would mostly affect Asia-Pacific or Russian underwriters because European insurance companies have scaled back or eliminated coverage of Iran-related deals. The European Union banned insurance and reinsurance to Iranian entities or their agents in 2010. U.S. insurance companies are banned from underwriting Iran-related business unless they get a special license from the U.S. government.
If any EU or U.S. entities are still providing insurance to non-Iranian entities involved in Iranian deals, “this will be the nail in the coffin preventing them from doing so,” Nigel Kushner, chief executive of Whale Rock Legal, a London-based law firm whose clients include companies engaged in legal trade with Iran, said in a phone interview.
The proposed measure “broadens the scope of U.S. sanctions to target Asian, Russian and other insurance and reinsurance companies looking to backfill on deals abandoned by their U.S. and European competitors,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington research institute, said in an interview yesterday.
“If you are insuring the sale of Iranian petroleum without an exception granted to your country under the U.S. central bank sanctions law, underwriting a major oil or natural gas project in Iran, or insuring the sale of parts and components for Iran’s nuclear program, you could be the target of these new measures,” said Dubowitz, who has advised members of Congress and the administration on expanding Iran sanctions.
The U.S. and Europe have piled additional economic sanctions on Iran since a Nov. 8 United Nations atomic inspectors’ report raised questions about Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions are meant to pressure Iran’s leaders to abandon any weapons-related work and head off conflict in the Persian Gulf region that holds more than half the world’s oil reserves.
U.S. officials say those sanctions are crippling Iran’s ability to export oil and conduct trade, stoking internal dissent, and have compelled Iran’s leaders to agree to return to international talks on its nuclear program. The latest sanctions have targeted banking, shipping, oil transactions, ports, non- oil trade, gold, petrochemicals and energy ventures, complicating Iran’s commercial ties to the outside world.
In addition to the insurance measure, Kirk and Sherman are seeking to expand existing U.S. sanctions to all Iranian banks and to foreign financial institutions, including foreign central banks, engaged in non-oil transactions with Iran. Currently, more than 20 Iranian banks, including its central bank, have been targeted by the U.S. government.
President Barack Obama said March 6 there is a “window of opportunity” for diplomacy and sanctions to compel Iran to give up any effort to develop nuclear weapons, before military action might be needed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrapping up a two-day visit to Washington that included more than three hours of talks with Obama, told U.S. lawmakers March 6 that sanctions won’t work.
The U.S. and its allies say Iran is seeking the capability to make a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for civilian energy and medical research.
The White House meeting with Netanyahu was a high-stakes encounter for Obama, who’s under pressure in an election year to forestall military action against Iran while blunting attacks from Republicans who accuse him of not being tough enough.
Current U.S. law prohibits insurance or reinsurance for refined petroleum sales to Iran. Iran, the second-largest crude oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has few refineries and imports gasoline. The proposed measure expands the insurance ban to any sanctioned activity or entity related to Iran.
“This is a big deal for non-EU insurers who have dealings with the U.S. and are legitimately insuring Iran deals,” Kushner said. The legislation would “allow the U.S. to place sanctions on non-EU insurers who have stepped into the shoes of EU companies previously insuring deals involving Iran,” particularly Japanese, Chinese and Russians, Kushner said.
Japanese insurance company spokesmen said they are monitoring the possible sanctions.
“Since there might be potential impact, we’ve been collecting information,” Yuzuru Tsukui of Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. said.
Naotake Hamada of Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., said the company will “strengthen further information- gathering.” Toshitsugu Matsuura of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., said “we are keeping an eye on” the developments.
U.S. Insured Tanker
An oil tanker covered by the American Club, which says it is the only U.S.-based shipping insurer, is sailing to Iran’s largest oil-export terminal, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Mykonos Warrior, capable of hauling 1 million barrels, was scheduled to arrive today at Kharg Island, George Vakirtzis, the general manager of Polembros Shipping Ltd., which owns the vessel said yesterday. It will load under a contract that is excluded from sanctions agreed to by EU leaders in January, he said by phone from Piraeus, Greece, confirming that the tanker is covered by the American Club.
“The American Club cannot in any circumstances provide cover except to the extent that is lawful for it to do so,” Charles Cuccia, the Club’s New York-based compliance officer, said by phone yesterday. “The American Club’s ability to cover P&I risks attendant on the shipment of cargoes to and from Iran, like other insurers, is constrained by various states and organizations, most notably the United States and EU.”
U.S. insurers “tend to be very careful about compliance,” according to Cari Stinebower, at attorney with Crowell and Moring LLP in Washington who previously worked in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The Mykonos Warrior may be traveling without insurance coverage if its policy excludes carrying shipments from nations, such as Iran, that are under existing American sanctions, she said in an interview. The tanker also may have multiple insurers, some of them not from the U.S., according to Michael Zolandz, a partner in Washington with SNR Denton LLP.
The new proposed legislation would also target companies that provide reinsurance to Iranian protection and indemnity clubs that protect shippers against marine risks, such as Bimeh Iran Insurance Co. and Moallem Insurance Co., which have been designated by the U.S. government for involvement in illicit activities, according to Dubowitz.
The proposal would compel the president to impose three or more penalties under the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996. Those include the denial of credit or payments by any U.S. financial institution and a ban on acquiring, holding or trading any U.S.- based property.
“For any activity that is subject to sanctions under our laws, both the company that conducts the transaction, as well as those that provide any insurance in connection with it, should be sanctioned to the same extent,” Representative Sherman said.
Re: Iran ups 'ante' in poker-game with West 2 Years, 5 Months ago
Now the U.S. is threatening INDIA with trade sanctions - for continuing to buy Iranian oil.
Here is where the U.S. is ultimately exposed as a toothless tiger (along with the rest of its corrupt Western buddies). The biggest DEADBEATS in the history of the world are "threatening" Iran and now India (and who knows who's next) to STOP giving them THEIR worthless paper for these nations valuable goods.
It's like a parasite trying to "scare" someone by vowing NOT to suck any more of their blood...
Ultimately the Western deadbeats were going to be EXCLUDED from most international trade anyways, as no one will continue taking 'bad cheques' from deadbeats forever.
"U.S. May Sanction India Over Level of Iran-Oil Imports"
India has failed to reduce its purchases of Iranian oil, and if it doesn’t do so, President Barack Obama may be forced to impose sanctions on one of Asia’s most important nations, Obama administration officials said yesterday.
A decision to levy penalties under a new U.S. law restricting payments for Iranian oil could come as early as June 28, according to several U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“Given the level of trade, and in particular oil, between Iran and India, targeting an Indian entity that facilitates Iran’s access to the international financial market should be top of mind for the U.S. Treasury,” Avi Jorisch, a former Treasury Department official who is now a Washington-based consultant on deterring illicit finance, said in an interview.
The U.S. law, which targets oil payments made through Iran’s central bank, applies to any country that doesn’t make a “significant” reduction in its Iranian crude oil purchases during the first half of this year. If India fails to cut Iranian imports sufficiently, Obama may be compelled to bar access to the U.S. banking system for any Indian bank processing oil payments through Iran’s central bank, the U.S. officials said.
While India hasn’t asked its refiners to stop purchasing Iranian crude, the government has told processors in the South Asian nation to seek alternate supplies and gradually reduce their dependence on the Persian Gulf state due to increasing pressure from the U.S. in recent weeks, three Indian officials with direct knowledge of the situation said today.
No Significant Reduction
India hasn’t significantly cut imports this year because refiners’ annual crude term deals with Iran typically run from April to March, they said. The planned reductions will start only when new annual contracts begin next month, the Indian officials said, declining to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media.
India bought an average of 328,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude in the first six months of last year, making it the No. 3 buyer, behind China and Japan and ahead of South Korea, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Iran is the No. 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The U.S. government may not be aware that India’s biggest buyer of Iranian oil, state-owned Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL), plans to import less from Iran starting next month, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai have said India will continue to buy Iranian oil to meet its growing energy needs. While the Indian government has an excellent record of enforcing United Nations sanctions on Iran, India has objected to unilateral U.S. sanctions, according to U.S. officials.
“We abide scrupulously by UN authorized sanctions,” Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in a telephone interview. While restrictions imposed by individual countries “have an impact on commercial interactions, from a legal perspective there is nothing that binds us to follow them.”
Oil Purchases Rise
The latest shipping data shows India and South Korea sharply increased oil purchases from Iran in January, according to a report released yesterday by the International Energy Agency in Paris. China halved its imports from Iran, from 550,000 barrels a day in December to 275,000 barrels a day in January, following a dispute over pricing terms that has now been resolved, the report said.
The new U.S. law targeting Iranian petroleum transactions doesn’t specify by what percentage a nation must reduce its Iranian oil imports to qualify for an exemption from sanctions. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they are looking for cuts of around 15 percent in volume, though they might consider whether buyers have extracted significant price discounts, thereby depriving Iran of revenue.
Mangalore Refinery may cut its contract to 6 million metric tons, or 120,000 barrels a day, in the year ending March 2013, which would be a 15 percent cut from the previous year, one of the people with knowledge of the planned reductions said.
The U.S. has offered India help in brokering deals with alternative suppliers including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which has offered to replace any shortfall, according to U.S. and Indian officials.
Envoys from the White House, the State Department, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Embassy in India have had numerous conversations with Indian counterparts since Congress began debating the sanctions measure that Obama signed into law Dec. 31.
Nancy Powell, the Obama administration’s ambassador- designate to India, testified before Congress last month that if confirmed, she would be “spending a great deal of time” working with India on Iran sanctions issues. She quoted Mathai, who came to Washington for meetings last month, as saying India is working to diversify its sources of petroleum and reduce its dependence on Iran to no more than 10 percent of its total oil imports.
“That would be a very good sign,” Powell said.
U.S. and European Union sanctions are already disrupting Iranian crude shipments to global refiners, contributing to a 16 percent advance in London-traded Brent this year. Brent oil for April settlement fell $1.25, or 1 percent, to end the session at $124.97 yesterday on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
The EU decided two months ago to embargo Iranian oil imports effective July 1. Last year, the 27-member EU was collectively the No. 2 importer of Iranian oil, taking 18 percent of Iran’s crude exports. Faced with a shrinking pool of buyers, Iran last month offered India additional crude supplies on revised terms.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has criticized sanctions on Iranian oil. China’s crude imports from Iran hit their lowest level in five months in January, customs data show, as the country’s biggest buyer, China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co. (0119173D), known as Unipec, delayed signing a new contract because of a dispute over payment terms. Unipec cut its 2012 term contract purchases by 15 percent from 2011, though the payment dispute has since been resolved.
For their part, Japan and South Korea are seeking exemptions from the new U.S. sanctions. If both nations can demonstrate a significant reduction in their purchases by the end of June, their banks would escape penalties, according to two U.S. officials involved in the talks.
Japan is seeking to reduce its crude purchases from Iran by at least 11 percent, according to a Japanese government official interviewed Feb. 21. The three largest Japanese buyers of Iranian crude are Showa Shell Sekiyu KK (5002), JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. and Cosmo Oil Co. (5007)
The South Korean government has said it will make a decision on cutting Iranian crude imports by the end of June. South Korean officials denied reports saying they had already proposed cutting imports by 15 percent to 20 percent.
The White House doesn’t want to punish Japan, South Korea or India, critical U.S. partners in trade and security and important regional counterweights to the rise of China, U.S. officials said. Still, the president has limited leeway to grant exemptions under the law, and so far, India hasn’t demonstrated reductions, they said.
Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington and an adviser to the administration on sanctions, said India shouldn’t assume it will avoid sanctions unless its refiners demonstrably reduce imports over the next three months.
There’s no reason “why India should be given a free pass as the EU, Japan and others significantly reduce the scale and scope of their Iranian trade,” he said in an interview. “No country should be confident that it will not be the target of U.S. sanctions.”
Other analysts said Indian officials have responded to U.S. pressure by quietly pressing state-run refiners to switch to alternative sources, and they expect the U.S. to reach an accommodation with the world’s most populous democracy.
“It’s highly unlikely that the U.S. would sanction India on this issue. The Iran issue is an irritant at best,” Harsh V. Pant, a specialist on India and Iran at King’s College London, said in a telephone interview.
The Iranian central bank sanctions that Obama signed into law Dec. 31 are part of a larger effort to deprive the Persian Gulf country of its leading source of revenue and complicate Iran’s commercial ties with the outside world. The U.S. and the EU have piled on new sanctions since November in an effort to pressure Iran to abandon any work it may be conducting to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Iran insists that its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy and medical research.
The world's biggest electronic payment system on Saturday will cut off Iranian banks blacklisted by the European Union in an attempt to further strangle Tehran's ability to finance a nuclear program.
Belgium-based SWIFT, which facilitates the bulk of global cross-border payments, said it would disconnect designated Iranian financial firms from its messaging system on Saturday at 1600 GMT after European regulators ordered the company to do so.
"The EU decision forces SWIFT to take action," SWIFT Chief Executive Lazaro Campos said in a statement on Thursday. "Disconnecting banks is an extraordinary and unprecedented step for SWIFT. It is a direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran."
Re: Iran ups 'ante' in poker-game with West 2 Years, 5 Months ago
Philipz, I don't think that ultimately this will be more than a minor nuisance for Iran's economy. The EAST is ignoring the West's evil sanctions, and the East has all of the money.
Note however that the fact that the banksters think that PARTIALLY shutting down one branch of their paper network could bring Iran to their knees tells us how BADLY the global economy is going to collapse when the PAPER ITSELF loses value.
Understand that when the paper goes to zero (and is no longer accepted) then ALL of this electronic machinery for trading paper SEIZES UP, since none of it is geared (or even capable) of using REAL MONEY.
This reinforces the argument against those idiots who claim that gold (and silver) are "useless" because you can't EAT them (lol!). When the Paper Empire of the bankers suffers its final crash, it will be IMMEDIATELY apparent why gold and silver are the principal TOOLS for survival.
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