Iraqi Oil Smuggling Attempt Goes Sour in the Persian Gulf

Monday, August 13, 2001
An Iranian team on Monday stopped an oil leak from a ship that sank in the Gulf last week while apparently smuggling Iraqi fuel oil, a regional marine body said.

The Bahrain-based Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) said the holes through which oil was leaking from the Honduras-flagged Georgios had been closed, limiting the environmental risk, and a Kuwaiti team had helped control the oil slick by using dispersants.

"We can say now that the danger is over," MEMAC's director, Captain Abdul Munem al-Janahi said, estimating that half of the 1,900 tons of oil the ship was carrying may have leaked out.

"The Iranian team is using under-water cameras to take shots of the ship's position to help study the best way to salvage it," he said.

The Georgios sank as it fled a U.S.-led naval force monitoring U.N. sanctions against Iraq. All 12 crew members were rescued. Iraq accused the U.S. Navy of sinking the ship.

MEMAC has said the ship, which had previously been intercepted three times, was not designed to carry liquids or fuel.

Iraq often uses old ships to smuggle crude in violation of the U.N. oil-for-food program, which allows Baghdad to sell oil and import specified food and medical supplies to offset the effect of sanctions imposed on it for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

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