Maritime Interception Operations (MIO)
Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) is a coalition effort that enforces United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) imposed against Iraq. Unabated since August 1990, MIO, initiated in the wake of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, continues to check merchant vessel traffic in the Arabian Gulf.
The United Nations prohibits cargo originating from Iraq and any imports not accompanied by a U.N. authorization letter. Although, under the food for oil agreement, Iraq can sell oil and import approved goods into Iraq.
Prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, MIO was focused on enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq. More recently, those intercept operations have been focused on stemming the flow of contraband goods, including smuggled Iraqi oil.
The enforcement of U.N. sanctions against Iraq is a multi-national operation. So far, ships from 15 countries, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard have served together to help enforce sanctions.
U.N. Sanctions Resolutions are: UNSCR 661 (established economic embargo), UNSCR 665 (called for naval forces to enforce the embargo), UNSCR 687 (Gulf War cease-fire; authorized shipment of food, medical supplies, U.N. approved goods), and UNSCR 986 (oil for food deal).
U.S. Fifth Fleet and the Multinational Interception Force (MIF) increased the intensity of Maritime Interception Operations with additional MIF assets and enhanced tactics in January 2002. These operations Began to include queries and boardings of all types of commercial vessels entering and exiting Iraqi port facilities, including cargo dhows and passenger ferries. The overall objective was unchanged, to halt violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 661 and 665.
Smuggling of prohibited goods via the Gulf of Aqaba, in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 661 and 665, had been detected over the prior several months. As a result, the MIF planned to resume Maritime Interception Operations in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.
As of May 2002 the naval interception effort conintued in the Arabian Gulf and other areas where vessels were inbound to or outbound from Iraq. Cargo bound for Aqaba or transshipment from Aqaba were normally inspected ashore by a team consisting of Lloyd's Register and the Aqaba Port Authority. Vessels traversing the Northern Arabian Gulf, the Shatt al-Arab waterway or Khawr abd-Allah Waterway could be queried an if bound for or departing Iraqi ports, boarded by multinational Naval units enforcing UN sanctions.
Documentation requirements for the officials in Aqaba and the Naval units in the Arabian Gulf are identical. Iraq-bound cargoes other than approved food, medical supploes, or humanitarian items will not be allowed to pass. Vessels not in possession of appropriate authorization letters from the UN may be subject to delay until proper documentation is obtained. All goods sent into Iraq under the Oil-For-Food program require a United Nations authorization letter. All goods sent legally into Iraq outside the Oil-For_Food Program, with the exception of food and medicine, require a UN authorization letter. Food and Medicine are not subject to UN sanction and are not required to have a UN authorization letter unless they are being sent under the Oil-For-Food program.
The Oil-For-Food program does not affecr the mission of the Multinational Forces operating under the authority of UNSCR 661(1990), UNSCR 665 (1990), and other relevant resolutions.
The following requirments are in effect for all Iraq-bound shipping traversing the Maritime interception operations area in the Arabian Gulf:
A. Notification: A minimum of 72 hours advance notification is required prior to arrival at the enforcement area. The following information must be included:
- VESSEL NAME.
- VESSEL FLAG.
- INTERNATIONAL RADIO CALL SIGN.
- ITINERARY, INCLUDING PORT OF CARGO ORIGIN.
- DESCRIPTION OF CARGO.
- VOLUME OF CARGO.
- NUMBER OF HOLDS.
- DIMENSIONS OF HOLDS.
- IDENTIFICATION OF THE VESSEL'S SHIPPING AGENT.
- IDENTIFICATION OF THE VESSEL'S OWNERS.
- IF REQUIRED, UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL LETTER SHOWING SERIAL NUMBER, ISSUE DATE AND EXPIRATION DATE.
- ESTIMATED ARRIVAL DATE AND TIME AT THE CHECKPOINT.
B. Cargo Configuration: All cargo must be accessible for inspection at sea. Cargo carriers are responsible for loading cargoes to ensure accessibility. The following specific guidance applies:
- CONTAINERIZED CARGO: CARGO CONTAINERS MUST NOT BE STACKED MORE THAN THREE HIGH FROM THE DECK. AS A SAFETY PRECAUTION TO PROTECT INSPECTION TEAMS, CONTAINERS STACKED MORE THAN THREE HIGH WILL BE CONSIDERED INACCESSIBLE. THIS PROVISION APPLIES TO BOTH INTERNAL AND DECK-LOADED CONTAINERS.
- BREAK BULK: PACKAGED OR BAGGED CARGO MUST BE LOADED IN A MANNER WHICH PERMITS THOROUGH INSPECTION. PALLETIZED ROWS OF CARGO REQUIRE ADEQUATE SEPARATION TO ALLOW FOR SAFE ACCESS.
- LOOSE BULK: LOOSE BULK CARGO MUST BE ACCESSIBLE FOR PHYSICAL AND VISUAL INSPECTION, VERIFICATION OF MEASUREMENT SOUNDINGS AND SAMPLING. HATCH COVERS MUST BE OPENED TO ALLOW FOR THOROUGH INSPECTION.
- IF A VESSEL'S CARGO IS DEEMED INACCESSIBLE FOR INSPECTION, THE VESSEL MAY BE DIRECTED TO RETURN TO A PORT WHERE ACCEPTABLE CARGO LOADING CAN BE ARRANGED.
C. Checkpoint: Vessels bound for or departing from Iraqi ports or the Mina al-Bakr oil terminal must pass within five nautical miles radius of latitude 29deg 12'N and longitude 49deg 20'E. Approaching vessels should contact the MIF Commander on Bridge-to-Bridge Radio, Channel 16, when within 5 nautical miles of this point. Vessels will not be permitted to proceed from this point until cleared by the MIF commander. Vessels containing cargoes for destinations other than Iraq qill not be allowed passage into Iraq.
D. Vessel tonnage limit: Vessels under 30,000 DWT will not be authorized to proceed to Mina al-Bikr for the purpose of loading petroleum cargoes.
E. Documentation: Vessel documentation must conform to the following requirements:
- AN ORIGINAL MANIFEST LIST, DESCRIBING THE CARGO AS WELL AS IT'S LOCATION IN THE SHIP, MUST BE ON BOARD. THE ORIGINAL MANIFEST MUST INCLUDE THE PORT OF ORIGIN, PORTS OF CALL, COMPLETE BUSINESS NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF ALL SHIPPERS AND CONSIGNEES AND A FINAL DESTINATION OF ALL CARGO. A COMPLETE BUSINESS ADDRESS MUST INCLUDE EITHER THE STREET ADDRESS, A PROMINENT IDENTIFIABLE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OR A POST OFFICE BOX PLUS A TELEPHONE NUMBER OR FAX NUMBER.
- CARGO ADDRESSED TO A FREE-TRADE ZONE MUST HAVE THE NAME, ADDRESS, TELEPHONE OR FAX NUMBER OF THE CONSIGNEE TAKING CUSTODY OF THE CONTAINER OR CARGO.
- CONSIGNEE NAMES AND ADDRESSES ON ALL CARGO MUST MATCH THE MANIFEST.
- THE MANIFEST MUST BE SIGNED IN THE ORIGINAL BY THE VESSEL'S MASTER OR CHIEF MATE. THE MANIFEST MAY BE ON SHIPPER'S LETTERHEAD, FAX, PHOTOCOPY OR COMPUTER PRINTOUT, BUT IT MUST BEAR AN ORIGINAL SIGNATURE, CONTAIN ALL THE INFORMATION LISTED ABOVE AND OTHERWISE COMPLY WITH NORMAL MARITIME TRANSPORT PRACTICE.
- THE ORIGINAL MANIFEST MAY CONSIST OF MORE THAN ONE DOCUMENT IF THERE ARE AMENDMENTS THAT LIST CARGO DROPPED OFF AT A GIVEN PORT OR CORRECT THE ORIGINAL MANIFEST. THESE AMENDMENTS MAY ORIGINATE FROM THE SHIPPER OR CARRIER. SINCE ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS MAY BE TRANSMITTED TO A VESSEL BY SUCH MEANS AS TELEGRAM OR FAX, THEY NEED NOT BEAR AN ORIGINAL SIGNATURE. HOWEVER, THE MASTER IS REQUIRED TO CERTIFY IN WRITING THAT THE AMENDED MANIFEST ACCURATELY REFLECTS WHAT IS ON BOARD THE VESSEL. THE UNDERLYING REQUIREMENTS ARE FOR ACCURATE DOCUMENTATION OF CARGO AND DESTINATION AND FOR A HIGH DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE THAT THE DOCUMENTS ARE AUTHENTIC.
- IF APPLICABLE, THE CARGO DOCUMENTATION MUST INCLUDE A COPY OF THE AUTHORIZATION ISSUED BY THE U.N. PURSUANT TO UNSCR 661 OR UNSCR 986 AND SUBSEQUENT RESOLUTIONS. REFER TO PARAGRAPH 1 ABOVE FOR SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION REQUIREMENTS.
Oil tankers inbound to the Mina al-Bakr terminal pursuant to UN authorization under UNSCR 986 and subsequent resolutionwill normally be authorized to proceed uniterrupted through the checkpoint, though advance notification and check-in are still required.
Vessels transporting bulk humanitarian cargoes are invited to contact MIF coordinator prior to sailing to explore pre-clearance option which use voyage monitoring methods and cargo loading certification from approved agents. The MIF coordinator may consider alternative pre-clearance procedures on a case-by-case basis.
Notwithistaning the pre-clearance options discussed above, the multinational Naval Forces retain the right under UNSCR 665 and other relevant resolutions to conduct document checks and at-sea inspections of any vessel when deemed necessary.
Iraq bound vessels which are determined to have incomplete cargo manifests or to be otherwise in violation of requirements listed in this advisory, may be detained by the naval forces or diverted to a non-Iraq port until appropriate conditions are met.
Outbound vessels are subject to search by the MIF. If an intercepted vessel is suspected to be carrying a cargo of Iraqi petroleum, petroleum products or has taken on Iraqi Bulk Fuel without UN authorization, the MIF will take the cargo and bunker fuel samples for laboratory analysis, examination, and comparison to Iraqi control samples. Vessels suspected of violating UN sanctions may be detained, and if it is determined that a petroleum cargo is of Iraqi origin, the cargo will be seized and disposed of in accordance with UNSCR 778. In such cases the vessel itself and crew may be subject to enforcement actions by an accepting UN member state.