iran navy

Seizure of cargo ship ; escalation of Iran-US tensions?

Tehran, April 5, The Iran Project – Following a legal dispute between two private companies, Iran seized a cargo ship in the Persian Gulf on April 28.

According to the reports, on the order of a court in Tehran, a ship belonged to the Danish MV Maersk Tigris company has been intercepted by Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boats, due to a considerable amount of overdue debt to a domestic private company.

The Marshal Islands-flagged vessel which initially ignored the warning, compiled to stop following shooting fire and transferred to Larak Island near Bandar Abbas. It is worth noting a few observations regarding the incident.

Following a distress call by the Maersk ship, the US Navy’s in Bahrain dispatched the destroyer and an aircraft to the area, yet the forces left there when the reason behind it explained to them.[1] Thus, as the Pentagon spokesman reaffirmed, no US navy or military forces involved in the incident.[2]

The ship seizure comes at the critical time when Iran and U.S are involved in the final stage of the delicate negotiations on the agreement to settle the disputes over the Iran’s nuclear program.

US-Iran three-and-a-half decade long hostile record 

Given the history of tensions between two countries on the vital passage of Hormoz Strait since 1979, this latest confrontation or any possible inadvertent confrontations may put the nuclear breakthrough at a potential risk. Such development also probably strengthens the distrustful positions of hardline and pro-Israel elements inside America against Iran, undermining efforts to reach the final deal.

For instance, two GOP hawks, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham had challenged a Pentagon statement which said the US has no military obligation to defend Marshall Island-flagged vessels. They said Iran’s seizure of the cargo is a “deliberate provocation” against America.

However, according to International Law, Iran holds the sovereign rights over the strait of Hormoz, as it has the lengthiest coastline on the rims of the Persian Gulf. Thus, as a sovereign state, Iran is unquestionably responsible for the Persian Gulf and the strait of Hormoz security. The recent development once again indicates Iran’s inalienable sovereignty over the strait and Persian Gulf.

As frequently reiterated by Iranian authorities, the Danish cargo ship seizure was strictly due to a legal case and not based on any diplomatic or political purposes or consideration.

As reported by Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, after a legal complaint by a private oil company against the Maersk shipping company, a legal court in Tehran ordered it to pay $3.6 million (3.2 million euros) in compensation and notified the Maritime organization to implement it. The unresolved financial issue in questions is linked to a ten-year financial dispute.

Since the tension is all about enforcing a judicial sentence, as soon as the Danish company settles the long disputed debt, the ship will be allowed to soil to the port of Jebel Ali in United Arab Emirates.