Panama denies “helping” Iran; says it has cancelled registry to 136 Iran-linked vessels

Panama’s vessel registry has withdrawn its flag from 136 ships linked to Iran’s state oil company over the past four years, the country’s maritime authority AMP revealed this week.

The authority was responding to claims by an anti-nuclear group.

On Monday former Florida Governor Jeb Bush called on the federal administration to pressure Panama to stop “helping” Iran to evade sanctions. Bush is a member of lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which seeks to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed regional superpower.

AMP said in reply that “the Panamanian registry cancelled 136 ships in which their direct link with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was proven”.

One-fifth of the 678 ships for which AMP withdrew flags for various reasons since 2019 were Iran-linked, an AMP spokesperson said. Panama has the world’s largest vessel registry, providing its flag to about 8,650 ships.

AMP said that it was in the process of cancelling the registration of tanker Glory Harvest after an investigation finished without having received the information required by authorities. “This administration has complied fully with the obligations and procedures at all times … and we have always started the investigation of the facts as soon as we received the information of alleged violations, respecting due process and constitutional guarantees,” AMP said.