Iran Trying to Hide Its Massive Oil Tankers turning off ships' GPS
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 14, 2012 7:32 AM CDT
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Oil sanctions are posing a growing problem for Iran, prompting officials to resort to some odd—and illegal—tactics. Struggling to find buyers, the country has been storing oil on tankers whose satellite systems have been turned off since early last month, thus breaking maritime rules, the Washington Post reports. Though the move is intended to hide the vessels as they search for ports and buyers willing to welcome them, Western surveillance systems can generally spot the GPS-disabled tankers anyway.

Sanctions have prevented Iran from getting Europe-based maritime insurance, and leading ship registrars are refusing to certify Iranian ships' safety, thereby barring them access to many ports. Europe has halved its Iranian oil imports, and India, Japan, and South Korea are cutting back, too. A US treasury official notes that "the value of their currency, the rial, has dropped like a rock." That cuts into Iran's nuclear funding—and some hope that will prompt the country to submit to shrinking its nuclear program.