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Iran’s oil tanker fleet being squeezed as sanctions bite

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Iran’s oil tanker fleet being squeezed as sanctions bite

Sanction

Since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in November, exploratory talks with South Korea for up to 10 new supertankers have stalled.

“Panama has also removed no less than 21 Iranian tankers from its registry forcing Tehran to put the vessels under its own flag,’’ local media reported on Wednesday.

Washington has put restrictions on Iran’s port, energy and shipping sectors; however it has given temporary waivers to the country’s eight biggest oil customers, which include China, India and Japan, so they can keep buying Iranian crude.

With oil exports accounting for an estimated 70 per cent of Iran’s revenues, maintaining a fleet of enough tankers to store and move that oil is crucial for Tehran.

However, potential sellers of vessels are more wary under the new round of sanctions after a Greek network that helped Iran buy tankers under previous restrictions was blacklisted.

“Iran has been looking for ships, but this time round it is going to be harder, there is so much more scrutiny now.

“It is going to take them longer,” one shipping source said.

Western insurers are steering clear of Iranian vessels.

While Iran’s attempts to export crude to the U.S.-approved buyers is further complicated by having to put its tankers under its own flag, rather than a third country such as Panama.

If Iran runs into difficulties exporting its oil it could have a significant impact.

Besides the importance of oil for its budget, Iran is estimated to produce about 2.8 million barrels a day, more than 9 per cent of OPEC’s output.

“Panama, the world’s leading flag state for commercial shipping, following the reimposition of sanctions  decided to de-flag Iran’s ships,’’ an Iranian official said.

Report says shipping data shows nearly all Iran’s tankers had been registered with Panama.

All commercial ships have to be registered, flagged in a particular country, partly to comply with safety and environmental laws.

A source at Panama’s flag registry said the cancellation, “affects approximately 60 Panama registered ships that are related to Iranian and Syrian owners”.

However, the source did not provide further details.

No less than two other tankers registered to Panama, the Sarak and the Sobar, that were not previously considered part of Tehran’s fleet, have been re-flagged to Iran this year.

The owners of the vessels, who were listed in the British Virgin Islands, could not be contacted.

Foreign

Iran confirms release of United States prisoner

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Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday confirmed the release of United States prisoner Michael White, official IRNA news agency reported.

White was freed by a decree of an Iranian judge for human rights considerations and left the country, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying.

White, a United States Navy veteran, was detained nearly two years ago in Iran for security reasons.

On Wednesday, an Iranian scientist, Sirous Asgari, held by the American authorities returned to Iran.

Iran, however, denied that Asgari has been released as part of a prisoner swap with the United States.

Mousavi said that the Iranian scientist was released after being acquitted of charges.

(XINHUA)

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Politics

Anambra poll: Aspirant urges PDP to reconsider zoning of ticket

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A governorship aspirant in Anambra, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, has urged the leadership of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to reconsider its stance on the zoning of the 2021 governorship ticket.

Ozigbo, a former Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, stated this during an online news conference on Thursday in Awka.

He said the yearnings of the people of the state was that the Anambra South Senatorial District should produce the next governor of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the party leadership had said at an expanded South-East Zonal Executive Committee meeting in March that it was not considering zoning of the governorship ticket to any of the three senatorial zones of the state, “at least for now’’.

The National Vice Chairman of the PDP for South East, Chief Austin Umahi, had made the declaration, shortly after the meeting in Enugu.

The meeting was attended by governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, David Umahi of Ebonyi and the Deputy Governor of Abia, Senators Ike Ekweremadu and Sam Anayanwu and other current and past National Assembly members.

The governorship election will hold in November 2021.

According to Ozigbo, for the party to have turned down the zoning of the governorship race does not augur well for the people of Anambra South Senatorial District.

“If the proper things are done and the race zoned to Anambra South Senatorial District, I will win the party primary and become the next governor of the state by the grace of God,’’ he said.

He, however, said that in spite of his party refusal to zone the race, he would still contest and win.

He said he was not afraid to contest against any candidate, including the ex-governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.

“If my party gives me the governorship ticket and Soludo emerges in APGA or any other party, I will floor him.

What Soludo has, I have more.

It’s Soludo that will be bothering on how to beat me in the contest because I have the wherewithal and connection to contest and win the election.’’

Expressing confidence that he would emerge the consensus candidate of the PDP, Ozigbo said he had the goodwill of the majority of the party’s leaders in the state.

“I don’t have a godfather; God is my godfather but I have the goodwill of the leaders of our party.

“Some have linked me with Mr Peter Obi, Chief Chris Uba, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu and a host of others.

That shows I’m popular across the board,’’ Ozigbo said.


Edited By: Joe Idika/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

United States Navy veteran leaves Iran after nearly two-year custody

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United States Navy veteran Michael White, who had been detained in Iran for almost two years, was released by Iran and on his way back to the United States, according to a statement issued by his family on Thursday.

“For the past 683 days my son, Michael, has been held hostage in Iran by the IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) and I have been living in a nightmare. I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely on his way home,” Michael White‘s mother said in the statement.

United States President Donald Trump later confirmed White’s release, saying the Navy veteran had left Iranian airspace aboard a Swiss plane. He also expressed his gratitude to the assistance of Switzerland, which represents United States interest in Iran.

The release of White came a day after Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist detained by the U.S. government, had returned to Iran. U.S. officials insisted that it was not a prisoner exchange and two cases were not linked.

Iranian officials, however, had suggested last month that once the Asgari was back in Iran, they would “look favorably at permitting Mr. White to go home,” according to a piece by The New York Times.

White reportedly has been detained in Iran since July 2018, and Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrest in January 2019.

Relations between the United States and Iran have become increasingly hostile since the Trump administration’s unilateral exit from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. Washington has been mounting pressure on Tehran through a series of sanctions. Iran has maintained a tough stance and scaled back its nuclear commitments in response.

(XINHUA)

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Iran reports 3,574 new COVID-19 cases, 164,270 in total

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Iran on Thursday reported 3,574 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 164,270, official IRNA news agency reported.

Kianush Jahanpur, head of Public Relations and Information Center of the health ministry, said during his daily update that 59 people died overnight, taking the total fatalities of the virus to 8,071.

So far, 127,485 have recovered and 2,569 remain in critical condition, said Jahanpur.

According to the health spokesman, 1,019,362 lab tests for COVID-19 have been carried out in Iran as of Thursday.

Iran announced its first cases of COVID-19 on Feb. 19.

Iran and China have offered mutual help in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-February, at the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak in China, Iran lit up the Tehran Azadi (Liberty) Tower to show its solidarity with China, and donated 3 million masks to China.

In return, China has delivered several shipments of medical supplies to Iran. On Feb. 29, a five-member Chinese medical team visited Iran for a month-long mission to help Iran fight the pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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Iran, Turkey reopen key border crossing for trade after 3 months of hiatus over COVID-19

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After three months of closure of the key border crossing of Bazargan in the northwest of Iran over COVID-19 pandemic, Iran and Turkey opened the gate for trade exchanges on Thursday, the spokesperson for the Iranian Customs Administration announced.

The Bazargan border crossing reopened at 10:30 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) on Thursday, Ruhollah Latifi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

He said that Iranian and Turkish trucks are allowed to pass through the border point on the condition that the health protocols agreed between the two sides are respected.

Last week, Iranian and Turkish presidents discussed reopening of air and land borders between the two countries as novel coronavirus infections and fatality have taken downward trends on both sides of border.

According to the report, the closure of borders between Iran and Turkey over the past three months has caused a decline of 70 percent in trade between the two countries compared to the corresponding period last year.

(XINHUA)

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Politics

Ondo governorship: PDP aspirant pledges to harness aviation, mechanised farming potentials

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Mr Tony Erewa, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant for Ondo State governorship, has pledged to harmonise opportunities in aviation and agricultural sectors to boost the state’s economy if elected.

Erewa made the pledge in an interview with newsmen shortly after obtaining his expression of interest and nomination forms at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said that as a technocrat, he had successfully run different businesses and organisations and would use his experiences and capability to turn the fortune of the state around.

“I have knowledge of modern agriculture and I will ensure that mechanised farming takes centre stage when I become governor.

“This will be better than the white-collar job that people are seeking.

“I will build a stadium in each of the three senatorial districts that will attract investors and attract international matches,’’ Erewa said.

He also pledged to transform the domestic airport at Akure, the state capital into an international one so as to make it possible for international flights to land and take off from there.

“This will bring a lot of international businesses into the state.

“It will also interest you to know that Ondo state has the largest coastal land (onshore) in the whole of West Africa and we will convert this into a tourist attraction.’’

The aspirant also pledged to review the state’s primary education sector to deliver quality education to the people.

Erewa, who expressed optimism that PDP would win the state governorship election, however, promised that all aspirants would work together for whoever emerged as the party’s candidate.

He also expressed optimism that he had what it takes to deliver Ondo state to the PDP at the Oct. 10 poll.

“We will put everything in place, put all hands on deck, move to all nooks and crannies of the state to propagate the story and sell our manifesto to the electorate.

“I believe they will vote for us and the PDP will win the forthcoming election in Ondo state.

“I know we are an opposition party but I have what it takes to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and give our people better lives,’’ he said.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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General news

Ondo 2020: Okunomo, PDP governorship aspirant, picks party’s nomination form

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Mr Banji Okunomo, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirant in Ondo State, has picked a nomination form ahead of the party’s primaries scheduled for July.
Okunomo
made the disclosure in a statement issued made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Okitipupa.
The News Agency of Nigeria
reports that the nomination form was also in preparation for the governorship election slated for Oct. 10 in the state.
NAN also reports that Okunomo, who picked his form at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, was the first among the array of the PDP governorship aspirants in the state to do so.
Okunomo, a former PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, said that he dedicated the form to God and the people of the state, who, he said, he intended to serve as governor.
“I picked the nomination form of N21m at Wadata House in Abuja today and this has made me the first among the PDP aspirants to purchase the form.
“I also dedicate the form to God and the good people of the state, whom I intend to serve meritoriously, if I am elected the party’s flag bearer.
“I also promise to eradicate poverty, generate employment, create wealth and enhance the livelihood of the several millions of Ondo State residents, if elected governor,” he said.
NAN recalls that Okunomo was also the first aspirant, who collected the expression of interest form at the PDP secretariat in Akure last week.


Edited By: Modupe Adeloye and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Foreign

Iran’s energy minister visits Iraq on boost of cooperation

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Iran’s Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian visited the neighboring country of Iraq on Wednesday seeking to discuss development of cooperation in energy sector, official IRNA news agency reported.

Ardakanian met new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad on Wednesday and urged for development of mutual ties in the field of electricity exchanges despite pressures of the United States.

During another meeting with his Iraqi counterpart earlier on the day, Ardakanian also discussed “synchronization of Iran-Iraq electricity network” and cooperation in the field of education in the electricity networking.

He is expected to meet the Iraqi President Barham Salih during his one-day trip to Baghdad.

Iraq is under the U.S. pressures to reduce its reliance on energy imports from Iran.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

COVID-19 tally in Iran exceeds 160,000 amid recent spike in new cases – Ministry

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The number of COVID-19 cases in Iran has increased by 3,134, an upward trend compared to the previous day, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday.

This takes infections beyond 160,000, with the death toll now exceeding 8,000, Jahanpur said.

On Tuesday

, the daily increase was at 3,117.

“The country has a total of 160,696 coronavirus infection cases.

In the past 24 hours, we have been able to detect 3,134 new coronavirus cases.

“The good news is that 125,206 people have recovered,” Jahanpur said on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network channel.

According

to him, 70 new fatalities from COVID-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 8,012.

In the past month, the spread of COVID-19 in the country was marked by an ebb-and-flow dynamic, with spikes in new cases followed by lulls and vice versa.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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