The US government — under Hook’s direction — has imposed a heavy toll of sanctions on Tehran, limiting the state’s ability to conduct financial transactions, import goods, and sell its voluminous reserves of oil on the global market. But the Iranian government hasn’t taken this lying down.
Sometimes tankers “go dark” as they near Iranian ports, with captains disregarding international rules that require they divulge the ship’s position and course. Sometimes Iran employs ship-to-ship transfers — transferring cargo to another seagoing vessel — to make the goods harder to track. And other times the Islamic Republic, or others doing business with it, will forge paperwork to hide what’s being exported.
But when Hook gets a tip, he likes to know other important players have the same information. And recently, the envoy has been busy, reaching out directly to a handful of high-powered maritime leaders and at least a dozen ship captains to convince them — through a mixture of threats and financial incentives — not to do business with Iran. “We are trying to dry up their labor pool to move illicit oil,” a US official told the Financial Times of the outreach.
The shipping world, then, knows about the bookish lawyer-turned-diplomat. But you’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard of him. Until recently, most people hadn’t. [read more…]