Iranian Tanker Theft?

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Iranian Tanker Theft?

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Maritime piracy, related high crimes, and countless others is how the US, Britain, other NATO countries, and Israel operate — not nonbelligerent Iran.

Its ruling authorities respect international laws, norms, and standards. The West and Israel repeatedly breach what they’re mandated to observe, accountability never forthcoming.

The criminal class of these nations prey on sovereign independent nations and populations they don’t control — Iran a key US-led Western/Israeli target.

Its ruling authorities are falsely blamed for crimes committed against the country and other regional ones. When coming to the aid of a UAE tanker in distress this week, they were wrongfully accused of maritime theft.

Here’s what happened. Last Saturday, a UAE tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz broke down, its transponder turned off or no longer operating properly.

An unnamed US war department official said “(w)e certainly have suspicions that (the vessel) was taken. Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility. But the longer there is a period of no contact…it’s going to be a concern.”

AP News quoted an unnamed Emirati official saying the tanker “did not emit a distress call,” adding: “We are monitoring the situation with our international partners.”

On Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi explained the following:

“An international oil tanker was in trouble due to technical difficulties in the Persian Gulf,” adding: 

“After receiving a request for assistance, and according to international regulations, Iranian forces approached it and used a tugboat to pull it towards Iranian waters for the necessary repairs to be carried out.”

No evidence suggests Islamic Republic maritime piracy or other illegal actions occurred, just the opposite. Iranian naval forces aided a vessel in distress near its coastline.

Press TV reported that “Iranian forces rushed to the scene after receiving the call, and tug boats salvaged the disabled vessel and towed it towards Iranian territorial waters to undergo required repair.”

Mousavi said more information about the rescue operation will be released later. RT reported that “the missing Emirati-based tanker ‘Riah’…departed either (from) Dubai or Sharjah ports last week and sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, before deviating from its course and pointing towards Iran.” 

“Shortly before midnight on Saturday, its tracking signal abruptly turned off.” Was it a malfunction of a deliberate act to suggest Iranian malign activities no evidence indicates occurred?

Article 98 (1) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the “duty to render assistance,” states the following:

“1. Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the crew or the passengers: 

(a) to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost; 

(b) to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him; 

(c) after a collision, to render assistance to the other ship, its crew and its passengers and, where possible, to inform the other ship of the name of his own ship, its port of registry and the nearest port at which it will call.” 

“2. Every coastal State shall promote the establishment, operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective search and rescue service regarding safety on and over the sea and, where circumstances so require, by way of mutual regional arrangements co-operate with neighboring States for this purpose.”

Iran fulfilled its UNCLOS obligation to aid the UAE vessel apparently in distress. Its action deserves praise, not criticism by the Trump regime, suggesting it seized the vessel in question — clearly no evidence suggesting it.

Cui bono is key when incidents like the UAE vessel going dark occur. Iran had nothing to gain and plenty to lose by seizing the tanker.

The Trump regime and its anti-Iran imperial partners benefit greatly by falsely blaming the country for things it had nothing to do with, or in the case of the UAE tanker, suggesting a rescue operation was maritime theft.

In response to the UK unlawfully seizing Iran’s Grace 1 supertanker on July 4, an act of maritime piracy, Tehran vowed to respond appropriately to the hostile act in its own way if the vessel isn’t unconditionally released.

Its ruling authorities will likely do it asymmetrically and legally at a time and in a way of its choosing, perhaps when not expected.

Western establishment media operate as press agents for wealth, power and privilege. Perceptions they drum into the public mind ignore reality, most people manipulated to believe what’s not so.

Separately, acting Trump regime war secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon and NATO established so-called Operation Sentinel.

Alliance warships will patrol Persian Gulf waters on the phony pretext of protecting against hostile Iranian actions. 

None occurred, nor does any evidence suggest IRGC forces may threaten Gulf/Hormuz Strait chokepoint maritime operations.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.