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“CMA CGM and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines plan to share vessel capacity, and jointly operate routes and marine container terminals, the latest sign of how global container lines are aiming to tap Iran’s potential due to the lifting of economic sanctions. Executives of the third-largest container line and the state-owned carrier in Paris Thursday signed a preliminary agreement outlining how the duo plans to cooperate, according to Reuters. The signing — part of a spate of trade deals signed between French and Iranian firms during an official state visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Paris — comes after the U.S., the EU and other countries agreed to lift an economic embargo in exchange for Iran ending its nuclear arms program. CMA CGM will also open six offices across Iran effective April 1 as it seeks to become a ‘key player’ in trade between Iran and the rest of the world, according to Le Monde, a French newspaper. The agreement is still subject to some sanctions, the specifics of which were not immediately available. The six offices will be in Tehran, Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, Khorramshahr, Bandar Imam Khomeini and Chabahar. International shipping firms have been reentering the Iranian market as sanctions are gradually lifted, with CMA CGM and Evergreen resuming services to the country over the summer of 2015… The carriers are eager to get their share of Iran’s containerized trade, which some have predicted could grow as much as 25 percent a year.” (JOC, “CMA CGM, Iran Shipping Lines team up,” 1/28/2016)
"The world's third-largest container shipping group, France's CMA CGM, said on Monday it would resume operations to Iran following the deal between Tehran and world powers over the Middle Eastern country's nuclear programme. 'Following the recent positive developments involving Iran and the P5+1 Group - comprising the U.S., China, France, the UK, Germany and Russia - and with the conclusion of the joint comprehensive plan of action, CMA CGM Group has decided to resume service to Iran starting (at the) beginning August 2015,' it said in an email." (Reuters, "Container shipper CMA CGM to resume service to Iran," 8/3/15)
"An Iranian official says the French CMA CGM shipping company has chosen southern Iranian Shahid Rajaei port as the port of call for its container ships. Ebrahim Idani, director general of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Department, told reporters on Wednesday that the development has come after Iran and the P5+1 group of countries clinched an agreement over Tehran’s civilian nuclear program in Vienna last week... The Iranian official said France’s CMA CGM is the world’s third biggest shipping company which transports container goods and its first container ship will berth at Shahid Rajaei port in early August. 'The container ship, which will call at Shahid Rajaei port is the Andromeda. It is 363 meters (m) long with a draft of 15.5 m, which can carry 11,500 TEU of containers. It will unload its containers at the second terminal of Shahid Rajaei port,' he added. Idani stated that the Andromeda has started its journey from the Far East and is bound for the Persian Gulf. 'It has chosen 10 big ports for berthing along its way and since Shahid Rajaei port enjoys international standards for accommodating big vessels, the French ship has chosen it as one of its ports of call,' he added. The official noted that investments made in the development of Shahid Rajaei port in the past years have made it a suitable destination for giant container-carrying vessels. Shahid Rajaei port is located 23 kilometers west of Bandar Abbas, the capital city of southern Iranian province of Hormozgan. The port is equipped with 18 gantry cranes and 41 docks, which make it the biggest and most modern container port in Iran." (PressTV, "French container ship to call at southern Iranian port," 7/22/15)
"Tougher conditions led to AP Moller-Maersk's Maersk Line, the world's biggest container company, pulling out entirely from Iran last year, joining an exodus including the world's number two and three MSC and CMA CGM and smaller groups like Germany's Hapag-Lloyd." (Reuters, "Iran faces fresh trade heat as more shipping firms exit," 5/7/2013)
"CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping group, stopped exports from Iran in July and since September has been scanning all containers bound for Iran from the UAE." (Reuters, "Sanctions blowback crippling Iran's shipping trade," 12/1/2011)
"CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping group, stopped export shipments from Iran in July and has been scanning all containers bound for the Islamic Republic since September, the French company said onWednesday... 'In July 2011 the CMA CGM group decided to stop all exports out of Iran,' the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters on Wednesday... CMA CGM had said in a note to customers in September it was introducing a scanning process from Khor Fakkan for all Iranian inbound container cargo, 'in order to maintain a safe service in regards of the international sanctions'... The shipping restrictions introduced by CMA CGM come after its announcement in June of extra security checks covering its activities in Iran, including the creation of an 'Iran Compliance Desk'. CMA CGM was criticised by certain members of the U.S. Congress for lax security in Iran after an arms seizure in March by Israel aboard one of the firm's ships, which the Israelis said concerned Iranian-supplied weapons bound for Gaza. The French group said it was the victim of a false freight declaration and was not accused of wrongdoing by Israel." (Reuters, "UPDATE 1-French shipper CMA CGM stops exporting from Iran," 11/30/2011)
CMA CGM’s website lists an office in Iran – an agency in Bandar Abbas and a head office in Tehran. Both are listed under the Jahan Darya Shipping Agency (CMA CGM Website).
CMA CGM’s Cimex 1 Line travels between major East Asian ports [China, South Korea] and the Persian Gulf, stopping in Bandar Abbas and advertising “direct service to Iran.” The route is operated weekly by six vessels over 42 days (Cimex 1 Line Info).
CMA CGM’s Gulf Emirates Qatar Feeder Line is a triangular route between Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran’s Bushehr Container Terminal. The route is operated weekly by two vessels over 14 days (Gulf Emirates Qatar Feeder Line Info).
CMA CGM’s Swahili Express Line is a triangular route between East African ports, India, and the Persian Gulf, including Bandar Abbas. The route is operated every nine days by five vessels (Swahili Express Line Info).
Uses Tidewater Middle East Co.’s private terminals in the Shahid Rajaee Port Complex. (Tidewater: Reflection of Tomorrow)
On June 23, 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Tidewater Middle East Co. (“Tidewater”), Iran’s major port operator, in response to the fact that Tidewater is owned by the IRGC and used by the IRGC for illicit activities including weapons shipments. (U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center, “Treasury Sanctions Major Iranian Commercial Entities,” 6/23/11) Tidewater is also sanctioned by the EU for being owned or controlled by the IRGC. (Official Journal or the European Union: Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2010)
CMA CGM’s wholly-owned subsidiary Delmas, which provides “intermodal services to and from Africa,” lists that it operates out of six Iranian ports: Asaluyeh, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Khomeini, Bandar Shahid Rejaie Sez, Bushehr Container Terminal, and Khorramshahr.
CMA CGM’s wholly-owned subsidiary ANL (Australia National Line), a cargo shipping company which ships “to/from and around Australia/New Zealand to anywhere in the world,” operates under ANL Singapore Pte Ltd in Iran. ANL East West Service covers Asia, the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Europe. Its ISC 1 line uses the port of Bandar Abbas.
CMA CGM conducts extensive business with the U.S. CMA CGM America LLC, the company’s U.S. branch, is headquartered in Norfolk, VA. Its website advertises that CGM CMA America provides 21 North American services, has posted sustained double-digit growth, and it is among the top ten container shipping companies in the U.S. (CMA CGM America LLC).
CMA CGM has received over $18 million in US government contracts in the past decade, 97% of which came from the U.S. Navy (USAspending.gov).
In January 2010, CMA CGM started port operations in Iran’s Bushehr port. CMA CGM chose Bushehr “due to its reasonable infrastructure established in the past few years ” and “announced its readiness to work with Bushehr port after months of studying and gaining assurance about the Iranian ports capability in exporting, importing and transiting containers.” CMA CGM announced at the time that it would “increase its activities in the [Bushehr] port 10 times more than present (Tehran Times, "Giant shipping line starts operation in Bushehr", 1/9/10).”
Nigeria Incident – MV CMA CGM Everest
Iranian arms shipment to Africa
Violation: UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (Iran)
- Nigerian authorities seized 13 shipping containers carrying illegal Iranian weaponry at Lagos’ Apapa Port. The containers included 107 mm artillery rockets (Katyushas), explosives and rifle ammunition. The arms were to be shipped next to Gambia, with the final destination of the cargo possibly the Gaza Strip.
- The MV CMA CGM Everest originally picked up the containers from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. CMA CGM says it was victim of a false cargo declaration, claiming the weapons were shipped in packages labeled as “glass wool and pallets of stone” and that the Iranian shipper “does not appear on any forbidden persons listing” (AP, “Nigeria: Shipper confirms weapons came from Iran,” 10/30/10).
- In November, Nigeria reported the seizure of the illegal arms shipment to the UN Security Council, accusing Iran of violating UN Resolution 1929. The resolution bans Iran from "supplying, selling or transferring directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals… any arms or related material.” Two Nigeria-based members of the Qods Force, an elite unit of the IRGC, were implicated in the arms shipment. (Reuters, “Nigeria Reports Iran Arms Seizure to UN,” 11/16/10)
UAE Incident – ANL-Australia
North Korean arms shipment to Iran (potentially including BM-25 missile components)
Violation: UN Security Council Resolution 1874 (North Korea)
- The UAE reportedly “seized a ship secretly carrying embargoed North Korean arms to Iran… The UAE reported the seizure to the UN sanctions committee responsible for vetting the implementation of measures, including an arms embargo, imposed against North Korea under Security Council resolution 1874 [banning all North Korean arms exports].”
- “The UAE reported the ship was carrying 10 containers of weapons and related items, including rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition [as well as detonators]. He [the UN diplomat] said the consignment had been ordered by Iran’s TSS, a company said to be linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and previously subject to international bans on importing weapons-related items” (Financial Times, “‘N Korean arms for Iran’ seized by UAE,” 8/28/09).
- The weapons were carried on the Australian vessel, the ANL-Australia, which was flying under a Bahamian flag. ANL is a wholly-owned CMA-CGM subsidiary. The exporting company was an Italian shipper, Otim, which exported the items from its Shanghai office (loaded in Dalian, China). The cargo manifest reportedly said the shipment contained oil-boring machines.
- The UN Security Council sanctions committee reportedly conducted its own investigation into the violation, as well as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (The Wall Street Journal, “Cargo of North Korea Matériel Is Seized en Route to Iran,” 8/31/09)
- In December 2009, the nature of the cargo was described for the first time, which included: “2,030 detonators for 122mm [short-range] rockets, as well as electric circuitry and a large quantity of solid-fuel propellant” (The Washington Post, “Arms smuggling heightens Iran fears,” 12/3/09)
- In December 2009, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported Iran had postponed the test launch of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile because they had not received the delivery of key electronic components allegedly contained in the intercepted North Korean shipment. According to a diplomatic source, “The shipment of the electronic components was supposed to be part of the new agreement signed in late 2008 between Iran and North Korea for the continued supply of the new missile's technology.” The components are said to be for the BM-25 (or Musudan) missile, which has a target range of 2,500 to 3,500 kilometers, thus posing a threat to most of Europe. Pyongyang reportedly exported components to assemble 19 such missiles to Iran in 2005. The BM-25 would be Iran’s longest-range missile. (Kyodo News International, “Iran delays missile test due to row with N. Korea over parts delivery,” 12/6/09)
- In November 2010, the BM-25 missile transfer was revisited when new information was revealed in the WikiLeaks-released U.S. diplomatic cables. According to the cable, secret American intelligence assessments have concluded that Iran has obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design. The missiles would for the first time give Iran the capacity to strike at capitals in Western Europe or Moscow, and they could potentially carry a nuclear warhead. (The New York Times, “Iran Fortifies Its Arsenal With the Aid of North Korea,” 11/29/10)