August 08, 2019

U.S. Sanctions Turn Iran’s Oil Industry Into Spy vs. Spy

Featuring Elizabeth Rosenberg

Source: The New York Times

Journalist Farnaz Fassihi

They change offices every few months and store documents only in hard copy. They scan their businesses for covert listening devices and divert all office calls to their cellphones. They know they are under surveillance, and assume their electronics are hacked.

They are not spies or jewel thieves but Iran’s oil traders, and they are suddenly in the cross hairs of international intrigue and espionage.

“Sometimes I feel like I am an actor playing in a thriller spy movie,” said Meysam Sharafi, a veteran oil trader in Tehran.

Since President Trump imposed sanctions on Iranian oil sales last year, information on those sales has become a prized geopolitical weapon — coveted by Western intelligence agencies and top secret for Iran. And the business of selling Iranian oil, once a safe and lucrative enterprise for the well connected, has been transformed into a high-stakes global game of espionage and counterespionage.

Read the full article and more in The New York Times.

Authors

  • Elizabeth Rosenberg

    Senior Fellow and Director, Energy, Economics and Security Program

    Elizabeth Rosenberg is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. In this capacity, she publishes a...