Iran’s Legal Response to Provocative UK Innocent Passage Breach

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Iran’s Legal Response to Provocative UK Innocent Passage Breach

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Like other NATO countries, Israel, and other key alliance partners, Britain is an appendage of Washington’s belligerent imperial agenda — partnering in its war machine, bent on world conquest, control, and exploitation.

It’s why world peace, stability, equity, and justice are unattainable. These noble principles run counter to Washington’s aim to rule the world unchallenged.

Its agenda is a prescription for endless wars of aggression against nations unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests — what its hostility toward Iran, Venezuela, Russia, China, North Korea, and other independent nations are all about.

Hardliners Pompeo, Bolton, their underlings, and accomplices are hellbent for confronting Iran militarily. They’re manipulating geopolitical know-nothing Trump in this direction, an act of madness if get their way.

Along with their counterparts in nations hostile to Iran, they manufactured provocative regional incidents, falsely blamed on Iran, pushing things toward belligerent confrontation — the latest incident on Friday.

Here’s what happened. The UK Stena Impero oil tanker, transponder turned off in contravention of maritime regulations, provocatively breached the right of “innocent passage” in Iranian Hormuz Strait territorial waters.

Under Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), passage through a coastal state’s territorial waters is “innocent so long not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State.”

“Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

(b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

(c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defense or security of the coastal State;

(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defense or security of the coastal State;

(e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

(f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

(g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

(h) any act of willful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

(i) any fishing activities;

(j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.”

The UK tanker provocatively breached innocent passage by turning off its transponder and ignoring multiple Iranian warnings of its improper behavior — before legally impounded by the IRGC.

Ignoring his nation’s July 4 maritime piracy against Iran’s Grace 1 supertanker, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hypocritically said the following:

“It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region (sic).”

“We’re not looking at military options (sic), we’re looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation (sic), but we are very clear that it must be resolved. (If not) there will be serious consequences.”

Hunt also falsely said Iran impounded two tankers. The IRGC said a second UK-owned/Liberian-flagged vessel Mesdar was allowed to continue passing through the Hormuz Strait after being briefly stopped.

Trump falsely accused Iran of “nothing but trouble,” adding “we heard two” tankers were seized — not so, adding: “Iran is showing their colors.”

John Bolton’s National Security Council spokesman Garret Marquis falsely said “(t)his is the second time in just over a week the UK has been the target of escalatory violence by (Iran). The US will continue to work with our allies and partners to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behavior (sic).”

The IRGC said the Stena Impero was impounded “at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules.”

The vessel breached UNCLOS Article 19. Was the incident jointly plotted by the Trump and UK regimes to provoke Iran’s legitimate action in its territorial waters — falsely calling it a hostile act?

When the UK-flagged Stena Impero, reportedly headed to Saudi Arabia, passing westward through the Hormuz Strait, it went dark after turning sharply in the direction of Iran’s Qeshm Island, following the wrong traffic pattern, violating international maritime regulations.

According to an unnamed Iranian source, the vessel also dumped crude oil residue into Persian Gulf waters, another UNCLOS Article 19 breach.

Tasnim News reported that the tanker was “transferred to the Iranian coast for the necessary legal procedures.”

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

The US seeks partners to patrol Persian Gulf shipping lanes on the phony pretext of protecting against hostile Iranian actions. 

According to Reuters on Friday, the US “is struggling to win its allies’ support for an initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes because of fears it will increase tension with Iran, six sources familiar with the matter said,” adding:

“Because of fears of confrontation, any involvement by Washington’s allies is likely be limited to naval personnel and equipment already in place – near the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf and the Bab al-Mandab strait in the Red Sea, two Gulf sources and a British security source said.”

“The Americans want to create an ‘alliance of the willing’ who confront future attacks (sic). Nobody wants to be on that confrontational course and part of a US push against Iran” — a positive sign.

A Final Comment

In Caracas, Venezuela for a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ministerial session, after attending a UN ministerial meeting in New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif slammed the US, saying the following:

“Anywhere the United States sets foot in, it causes instability there.”

“At the moment, the US is causing insecurity with its presence in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, and also the South American region.”

“I don’t know any place in the world where the US’ presence has brought stability.”

“Anywhere the US has set foot on, it led to pressure on the people and caused extremism and terrorism.”

That’s how the world’s greatest human rights abuser for centuries operates, its actions hostile to what just societies hold dear.

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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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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.