Iran's Clandestine Operations Take To The High Seas: How Iran Is Getting Its Crude Oil Out

 @David_Kashi on October 28 2013 9:07 AM
Following an extended game of chicken, the Obama administration granted China and Singapore an exception to the Iranian oil sanctions, senior White House officials said Thursday.
An Iranian oil tanker. Reuters

As Iran continues to suffer from crippling Western sanctions that make it difficult to sell its oil, the country is turning to ever more clever ways to skirt the ban.

In the latest move, gcaptian.com reported last week that the crew of an Iranian tanker managed to cloak its identity by hacking into an onboard computer system and making it appear as a Singaporean ship rather than an Iranian one. The tanker Ramtin's crew hacked the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which changed its identity and allowed it to offload its crude to another tanker and onto the global market.

The crude tanker made its way from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to an area near Eastern Singapore and Malaysia known for ship-to-ship transfer operations. Ramtin was able to change its identity number and transfer its cargo to a smaller tanker named Hamoda K. that was on its way to Karachi Pakistan from the UAE.

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Researchers recently exposed significant security vulnerabilities in the AIS system, which government agencies use to track ships smuggling contraband. Users are able to alter certain features of a ship's travel, including position, course, cargo, flagged country, speed and name.

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The latest report comes amid intense but so far fruitless negotiations betwen Western governments and Iran over the latter's  nuclear program.

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