Kuwait has agreed to allow six of its American-flagged tankers to return to their Kuwaiti colors after the United States agreed not to take over the ships in the event of war, U.S. diplomats said Saturday.
The tankers were reflagged with the Stars and Stripes two years ago to ward off Iranian attacks during the Persian Gulf war, but Kuwait's state-owned Kuwait Oil Tanker Co. dragged its feet until the issue could be cleared up.Kuwait strongly objected to a provision in U.S. law saying that ships taken off the American registry could still be liable for requisition in case of war. The gulf-based diplomats confirmed reports the two sides found a legal loophole allowing the tankers to be de-flagged without possible requisition in the future by the United States.
The Kuwaiti-owned tankers came under U.S. naval protection during the eight-year war and none was ever attacked by Iran. The Soviet Union and Britain also leased several tankers to Kuwait so the emirate could ship its oil out of the gulf under Soviet and British Royal Navy escort.