IRISL Making a Comeback
After an absence of over six years, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) is making a comeback in the liner trades. IRISL’s return follows the withdrawal of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.
On January 16, the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the European Union lifted all sanctions against the IRISL Group of companies and its vessels.
The U.S. first imposed sanctions against IRISL in September 2008, alleging that the carrier provided logistical services for Iran’s nuclear proliferation program and facilitated shipments of military-related cargo for Iran. In November 2009, IRISL transferred most of its container shipping services to Hafiz Darya
Shipping (HDS), dropping the use of the IRISL name in a bid to overcome the sanctions. In addition, IRISL’s Middle East local services were transferred to Valfajr Eight Shipping, whereas the Caspian Sea services were moved to Khazar Shipping, both part of the IRISL Group. Breakbulk operations were transferred to another IRISL-related company, Safiran Payam Darya Shipping (SDS).
IRISL plans to return to Europe before the end of this month, with HDS Lines to launch a full container service connecting Iran with Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. The loop will see the first calls of Iranian-flagged vessels in Europe since the UN and EU imposed their own sanctions against IRISL/HDS in June and July 2010, respectively, forcing HDS from the Europe trades in late 2010.
The new service is expected to start from Bandar Abbas, with calls initially limited to a fairly small number of North European ports (tentatively Antwerp and Hamburg), before being extended to other ports at a later stage, with ships of up to 6,500 teu to be deployed.
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