The not-for-profit, non-partisan advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has announced the launch of an around-the-clock Iranian vessel tracking system known as MINERVA.
MINERVA, short for Maritime Intelligence Network and Rogue Vessel Analysis, is a new initiative that aims to track Iranian vessels to identify and expose the Iranian regime’s efforts to smuggle oil and cargo in circumvention of international sanctions. UANI says the system is able to detect nefarious Iranian shipping activities as they occur, and the group can then notify the relevant authorities of illicit actions occurring in their jurisdictions.
The MINERVA system is based on AIS data that is supplemented with data from various maritime industry sources, according to UANI. The system then employs algorithmic analysis to create distinct vessel and shipping route profiles and predict the courses and destinations of otherwise undetectable vessels of the Iranian regime, the group says.
UANI says the system was developed in response to Iran’s increasing efforts to make vessels “dark,” and avoid being detected by traditional vessel-tracking systems. For example, vessels of Iran’s National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) are now regularly disabling their AIS systems, or “spoofing” their locations, destinations, and/or identities by inputting false information, UANI says.
“Iran’s smuggling schemes thrive on deception and disguise,” said UANI CEO, U.S. Ambassador Mark D. Wallace. “Our analysts are now on watch, 24 hours a day, to uncover the clandestine activities of Iranian vessels and identify the regime’s unscrupulous partners in the international shipping industry.”
“When the regime’s smuggling schemes are identified and exposed, maritime and port authorities can no longer deny knowledge of the origins of illicit Iranian vessels, shipments, and cargoes in their respective jurisdictions. The moment Iran’s shipping schemes are brought to light is the same moment maritime and port authorities begin to turn the vessels away,” Wallace added.
UANI’s hails the tracking system as the next phase of the group’s shipping campaign, which UANI says has already resulted in dozens of shipping and maritime-related companies, including all thirteen of the world’s major classification societies, multiple shipping lines, and numerous countries, ending their provision of services to the Iranian shipping industry.