Archive for the ‘U.N. Sanctions’ Category


Jul

15

Nigel Malpass Redux


Posted by Clif Burns at 9:38 pm on July 15, 2010
Category: Iran SanctionsU.N. Sanctions

Nigel Malpass
ABOVE: Nigel Howard Malpass

This blog reported back in June on the shenanigans of Nigel Howard Malpass, who assisted the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (“IRISL”) in evading U.S. sanctions on IRISL vessels by re-naming, re-registering and re-flagging those vessels. As we noted, Malpass accomplished this by setting up, and serving as a director of, shell companies in the Isle of Man and elsewhere that then became the “new” owners of the IRISL vessels.

Malpass, when his participation in the IRISL scheme was discovered by the New York Times, tried to run away from it as fast as he could, telling the Times (falsely) that he had ended all association with IRISL. But it’s not only the New York Times that took an interest in Mr. Malpass. The BBC’s investigative program “File on 4″ took an interest in Mr. Malpass after the Israelis boarded an IRISL vessel registered to one of Mr. Malpass’s Isle of Man companies and discovered the vessel was carrying hundreds of tons of weapons disguised as civilian cargo. And now Mr. Malpass has (surprise, surprise!) a brand new story to tell the Beeb’s File on 4 when they asked him why he was setting up, and serving on, shell companies in the Isle of Man that owned gun-running IRISL vessels.

Malpass has now stopped trying to push the canard that he is no longer associated with IRISL. Now he is claiming instead that everything he did, and is doing, for IRISL is completely legal. And he’s enlisted the government of the Isle of Man to back him up on this dubious story:

Captain Malpass would not be interviewed by the BBC but said the companies had been formed at the request of a German bank which holds a mortgage on all of the ships.

In a statement he said the transactions were governed by English law and the way companies were set up was “the absolute norm in the business of ship ownership”.

He added that the Manx authorities approved his business dealings which were arranged some years before the sanctions came into force.

Captain Malpass did not address whether these arrangements are also helping the Iranians evade the sanctions.

Even if you believe the German bank story or you believe Malpass’s claim that IRISL decided to set up shell companies as new owners of its vessels and to re-register and re-name them long before the thought of sanctions on IRISL had crossed anyone’s mind, the rest of his story is no defense. Paragraph 19 of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 requires member states to freeze the assets of persons, like Mr. Malpass, acting on behalf of IRISL, whether or not those actions might have previously been legal.

The Isle of Man is also busy trying to whitewash Mr. Malpass’s ongoing activities on behalf of IRISL:

Concerns were raised last month in the Manx Parliament but the island’s chief minister Tony Brown maintained that an investigation had revealed no wrongdoing and he denied that island had aided any breach of the sanctions.

“We have to be realistic we can’t do any more, we shouldn’t be expected to do any more.”

He added: “Why should we shut down legitimate businesses…. we shouldn’t be expected to take action the rest of the world won’t.”

Actually, that’s exactly what the “rest of the world” required in the UNSCR 1929 and that is exactly what the “rest of the world” is expected to do. Malpass might have been within his legal rights to set up the shell companies for IRISL prior to the passage of UNSCR 1929. That doesn’t mean he can continue to serve as a director on the boards of shell companies that act on behalf of IRISL after the passage of UNSCR 1929, at least as long as the Isle of Man, which is not a member of the UN, purports nonetheless to follow UN Security Council Resolutions.

[Thanks to my colleague Anita Esslinger for catching the Beeb report.]

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Feb

5

Hot Boat-ato Tossed By Cyprus to U.N. Sanctions Committee


Posted by Clif Burns at 8:13 pm on February 5, 2009
Category: Iran SanctionsSanctionsU.N. Sanctions

MonchegorskRetired Russian merchant ship Monchegorsk, alleged to be carrying Iranian arms shipments, wound up in Cypriot hands after being forced by the U.S. Navy to moor in Cyprus last week. The ship was searched by Cypriot authorities which on Tuesday turned over to the U.N. a report on what was found on the ship. What exactly is on the ship and where the ship was headed remain subjects of speculation. At issue, however, is whether the Iranian cargo violates U.N. Resolution 1747 and, if so, what to do about it. Paragraph 5 of that resolution declares that Iran “shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly … any arms or related materiel.”

The story starts two weeks ago when the U.S. Navy stopped the ship in the Red Sea on the suspicion that it was carrying an arms shipment to the Gaza Strip. The U.S. Navy boarded and searched the ship with the permission of its captain. According to U.S. military officials, the search uncovered “small munitions.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said his country had done all it could to intercept the ship’s suspected arms shipment to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, but its hands were tied. …

“The United States did as much as we could do legally,” Mullen said Tuesday. “We were not authorized to seize the weapons or do anything like that.”

Mullen’s statement is consistent with U.N. Resolution 1747 which requires the U.S. to prohibit U.S. citizens from procuring arms from Iran and from using U.S.-flag vessels to carry U.S. arms, both of which are already prohibited under U.S. law by the Iranian Transactions Regulations and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). Nothing in 1747 authorizes the U.S. to seize the weapons or the ship; instead the ship was escorted by the U.S. Navy to Cyprus

Cyprus, on the other hand, can do a bit more. Resolution 1747 forbids Cyprus from using a Cypriot-flagged vessel from carrying Iranian arms or related materiel. That would, in theory, permit Cyprus to require the ship to offload any prohibited Iranian cargo in Cyprus. Cyprus, however, is asking the U.N for guidance on what to do. The Cyprus Mail quoted the Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou on the affair:

Cyprus filed a report to a United Nations sanctions committee on Tuesday and would await a verdict before taking further action, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said.

He declined to specify what the Cypriot report said, saying it was confidential.

“There is an issue because of the origin of the cargo, and there should be an assessment on whether the specific cargo falls within the prohibitions of the (Security Council) resolutions. That is where we are expecting guidance from the United Nations,” Kyprianou told reporters.

He said the vessel, anchored off the southern port of Limassol from January 29, would remain there until a definitive decision is taken.

It’s not clear why Kyprianou needs guidance whether the cargo consists of “arms or related materiel.” Even if the ship only contains small munitions, as stated by U.S.-military officials, those clearly fall within the definition. The Jerusalem Post claims that the cargo includes “propellant and casings for artillery and tank rounds.” Debka File, not always an entirely credible source, claims that ship is carrying “10 containers of Iranian rockets.” If any or all of this is true, Kyprianou can’t let a Cypriot-flagged ship carry this cargo.

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Sep

30

How Often Do You Get To Root For The Pirates?


Posted by Clif Burns at 8:32 pm on September 30, 2008
Category: SudanU.N. Sanctions

Ukrainian MV FainaNo, not the Pittsburgh Pirates. Real pirates, as in the Somali pirates that seized the Ukrainian merchant vessel Faina off the coast of Somalia. But before you get all excited, don pirate gear, break out a bottle of rum and start talking like a pirate, you only get to root for the pirates here because it appears that — accidentally, of course — the seizure of the Ukrainian ship might have been in the best interests of the United States, not that the pirates knew that or cared when they seized the arms-laden vessel.

According to Lt. Nathan Christensen, a deputy spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, the ship’s cargo, consisting of tanks, grenade launchers, and ammunition, was ultimately destined for Sudan not for Kenya. For what it’s worth, the pirates also say the arms are headed for Sudan. Of course, they also say that the $20 million that they are demanding is not a ransom, but a “fine for unlawfully transporting weapons on Somali waters.”

Sudan is subject to both U.S. and U.N. arms embargoes. Some sources have suggested that the arms are more specifically destined to Southern Sudan. The U.S. arms embargo, which doesn’t strictly apply to this shipment, has been lifted for non-lethal military assistance and equipment for Southern Sudan, although the Ukrainian cargo can hardly be described as non-lethal. The semi-autonomous region of Southern Sudan is not subject to the U.N.arms embargo which covers only Darfur.

Even so, Kenya is still claiming that the arms are not destined for Sudan, north, south, east or west.

On Monday, a government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, said: “We buy weapons all the time. I don’t see what the big deal is.” …

Ukrainian tanks, though, are a relative anomaly in Kenya, which has been a close ally of the United States and Britain for decades and has been equipped with Western-made weapons. Mr. Mutua acknowledged this, saying most of Kenya’s tanks were “old British tanks.”

But, he added, the Ukrainian tanks were cheaper.

Cheaper, of course, if you don’t include the cost of retraining Kenyan troops to use the new tanks. Or cheaper if they were headed to Sudan, including Darfur

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May

15

DDTC Announces Partial Lifting of Somalia Arms Embargo


Posted by Clif Burns at 5:23 pm on May 15, 2007
Category: Arms ExportU.N. Sanctions

Abandoned Tank in Mogadishu, SomaliaThe Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) announced today that it was amending section 126.1 of the ITAR to reflect a partial lifting of the arms embargo against Somalia. These amendments are being adopted to implement revisions made to the Somalia arms embargo by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1744 adopted on February 21, 2007. Thee three month delay in announcing the amendments, which have not yet even been published in the Federal Register, indicates that revising the arms embargo on Somalia was not exactly put on the front burner at DDTC.

In January this year, an offensive by Ethiopian troops overthrew the fundamentalist Islamic militia that had ruled the country and allowed the emergence of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (“TFG”). The TFG is the result of mediation by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Formed in late 2004, the TFG governed from neighboring Kenya and then moved to Baidoa, a city in Western Sudan. On January 8, 2007, the TFG established itself in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Shorthly thereafter, the African Union announced that it was opening a mission in Somalia aimed at promoting stability in Somalia as the TFG attempts to establish itself, consolidate power, and transition to a democracy through elections in 2009.

The UN resolution lifted the arms embargo in two respects. First, it permits export to Somalia of “weapons and military equipment, technical training and assistance intended solely for the support of or use by” the AU Mission. Second, it permits exports of the such military supplies, assistance and training “intended solely for the purpose of helping develop security sector institutions, consistent with the political process” leading to the establishment of the TFG and elections in 2009. The meaning of “security sector institutions” is unclear, but all such exports need to be notified to the Security Council Committee on Somalia and may proceed only in the absence of a negative decision by the Council within five days of such notification.

Continued violence and unrest in Somalia suggest that the January victory of the Islamic militias may not have been complete and call into question whether the TFG will be able to bring stability to the nation with a view towards elections in 2009. The U.S. seems to harbor some skepticism about the situation in Somalia, and this could well explain the delay by DDTC in implementing Resolution 1744.

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Mar

13

Additional U.N. Sanctions on Iran Seem Likely


Posted by Clif Burns at 5:32 pm on March 13, 2007
Category: U.N. Sanctions

Iranian proliferationA number of news reports, including this report from the AP, indicate that the six nations negotiating a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing a second set of sanctions on Iran are close to an agreement. In December 2006, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1737, which directed U.N. members to stop supplying materials to Iran that could be used for nuclear and missile proliferation and which froze the assets of various Iranian firms and individuals involved in proliferation activities. Iran responded by stepping up its uranium enrichment activities which led to the second round of sanctions negotiations.

Proposals to impose a travel ban on Iranian officials have been dropped from the new sanctions. Similarly, the new sanctions are not expected to include a ban on arms exports to Iran. However, it seems clear that the proposal will forbid imports of arms from Iran, loans to the government of Iran, and an expansion of the list of Iranian individuals and companies subject to an asset freeze.

Since current U.S. sanctions already forbid import of Iranian arms and loans to the government of Tehran, the expansion of the list of blocked firms and individuals is the part of the resolution that will be most significant to U.S. exporters and companies. Although it seems certain that the list will be expanded, there is still some disagreement over who to include on that list. For example, the United States is pushing to include all firms owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the list but is encountering some resistance. The Russians have whimsically argued that the Revolutionary Guard is an “institution” in Iran and are hesitant to penalize an institution. There’s little point in trying to make sense of that argument because the Russians, of course, aren’t terribly keen on sanctioning Iran in the first place but can’t very well admit that.

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