Document:So what actually happened in the Strait of Hormuz on 10th July?
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So what actually happened in the Strait of Hormuz on 10th July?
So what actually happened in the Strait of Hormuz on 10th July? UK media have unanimously accepted the UK Government narrative that the British Heritage oil tanker was harassed by five Iranian boats, despite the absence of any confirmatory evidence.
At a distance it is impossible to be certain, but here's my take:
1. If the incident took place, it will have been videoed by the UK frigate, HMS Montrose. So why has no video been released?
3. The UK (and certainly its foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt) supports efforts to build a naval coalition to further militarise the the Straits and Gulf, with warships escorting oil tankers for their 'protection'. This 'incident' is being used to justify such a coalition, pressuring other countries to join.
4. This incident makes Hunt look good at a critical time in the Tory leadership election. The point is not that it will help him win (Boris has it in the bag) but it could help him to keep his job in a Boris cabinet.
5. The 'incident' is already being used to justify increased spending on the UK navy. Hunt has already promised such increased spending if he wins the Tory leadership. Hunt happens to be the son of Nicholas Hunt, former Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom and Lieutenant of the Admiralty.
6. The UK is claiming (correctly) rights of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, quoting the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Of particular relevance are Part 2 Section 3 and Part 3. Interference with vessels exercising right of passage is generally forbidden, but such vessels are also subject to rules of good behaviour including prohibitions of any threats of force or breaches of UN Charter (Articles 19, 39).
8. The Law as it applies to the Strait of Hormuz are identical to those applying to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the UK recently seized control of an Iranian tanker on the grounds it was carrying oil to Syria in defiance of EU sanctions. Nothing in UNCLOS justifies this action because the EU sanctions are effectively national laws governing EU states and have no effect on the rights of transit passage of a non-EU state travelling to another non-EU state.
9. Article 43 sets out the nature of the laws and regulations that coastal states may impose governing vessels in transit through Straits. These are limited to maritime safety, control of pollution, and the loading and unloading of goods to the coastal state. Transit shipping in defiance of sanctions against another country imposed by a coastal state is not on that list.
10. Article 27 sets out the highly restricted circumstances in which coastal states may apply their criminal law to a vessel in transit and none of these apply.
My conclusions are:
1. There is no evidence that the above 10th July 'incident' in the Strait of Hormuz ever took place. There are strong reasons, in terms of national and international politics, for the UK to have manufactured the account.
3. The aggressive posturing of US and UK and the moves to militarise the Strait of Hormuz, taken together with US calls for regime change and other threats to the sovereignty of Iran, constitute a breach of UNCLOS Articles 19 and 39 and are thus unlawful.