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Panama says the withdrawal of the flag from a tanker being towed to Iran results in violations



PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – The Panamanian Maritime Authority announced on Saturday that it had started revoking the registration of an oil tanker called MT Riah, which was towed after the disappearance of ship tracking cards in the Strait of Hormuz in Iran July 14 ,

Panama began flagging on Friday after a survey showed that the tanker "deliberately violated international regulations" by not reporting any unusual situation, the agency said in a statement.

"We strongly condemn the use of ships under Panamanian flag for illegal activities," a statement said.

Panama, which owns the largest shipping fleet in the world, has recently withdrawn flags from dozens of ships, some of which were operated by Iran.

It is not clear which country or company owns and operates the Riah.

The latest development follows the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker accused of violating Syria. Panama said the vessel had been removed from its register on 29 May.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the British action as "piracy," and Iran threatened retaliation.

Iran recently said it had hauled a ship from the strait into its waters after the ship made an emergency call. Although Teheran did not name the ship, the Riah is the only ship whose recorded movements are likely to match this description.

US. Officials said they were not sure whether the tanker was seized or rescued by Iran after being exposed, as Tehran claims, to mechanical failure, which was a mystery at sea in times of high tension in the Gulf.

Earlier this month, the Panama Maritime Administration announced that it would withdraw its flag from more ships in violation of sanctions and international law, as in the past few months some 60 vessels linked to Iran and Syria have been removed from the Panamanian Register had been.

Washington has demanded greater safety for ships in the Gulf.

Re-Poting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Edited by Anthony Esposito and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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