Seizure of UK oil tanker by Iran legal

MNA – Following the capture of British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz by Iran, many of the countries, including the Saudis, tried to make Iran’s action illegal, while it was fully in line with international law.

A while ago Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir wrote on Twitter: “Any attack on the freedom of navigation is a violation of international law,” added: “Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable and world powers to take actions to deter such behavior.”

This comment was made while Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mohammad Eslami said that the British oil tanker had switched off its GPS tracker in violations of international maritime regulations, using the exit lane to enter into the Strait of Hormuz instead of moving towards the entrance of the Persian Gulf, increasing the risk of accident, added that it had been confiscated by the order of the judicial authorities at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization.

First, we should know what Iranian Road Minister meant by risky action and whether any risky action is a green light for ship seizure. The point that has been less discussed was the issue of switching off the GPS; a point that the relevant authorities did not accurately pay attention to it.

The vessels and tankers, like other vehicles, have precise and unique specifications. Given the fact that they commute in international waters, their profile is internationally registered and observable. This specification can include ship features, origin, destination, owner, specifications and etc. This profile is considered as the identifier or better to say, the identity of each vessel. This profile is recorded on a system called the automatic identification system (AIS), and when a vessel or tanker passes through a waterway area, it declares its identity and shows that its intention is not illegal and is subject to international law by turning this system on and communicating its information to the Marine Control Center of any territory. This action of the vessel or tanker must be carried out before entering the waters of the territory. This system (AIS) is the phrase “GPS” in the remarks of Iranian Road Minister.

The warnings of this system for the Marine Control Center can be received only to a distance of about 65 km. Therefore, AIS can be considered as the identity of a vessel, and it should be said that if a vessel passes through a waterway area of a territory with a switched off AIS, it is an unidentified flotilla that can be considered dangerous. This is the reason why the Coast Guard of the waterway can take appropriate action against it in accordance with international rules.

In the recent capture of British oil tanker by Iran, the tanker refused to switch on its AIS despite the notifications of the ports of Hormozgan province. So by this action, it allowed the Coast Guard of Iran to take action in accordance with international law.

Therefore, it is clear that Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs’ statement is purely political and unfounded and Iran’s action to seize the British oil tanker is completely in accordance with the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as international law