Questions, Tensions Linger Over U.S.-Iran Face-Off at Sea
As President Bush continues to issue stern warnings to Iran about its current threat level, some key questions persist about the alleged confrontation between American and Iranian vessels in the Strait of Hormuz early Jan. 6 — not the least of which has to do with the U.S. Navy’s claim that the American ships were in international waters at the time of the incident.
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Asia Times Online:
Thus there is the issue of the exact whereabouts of the US ships at the time of the standoff with the Iranian boats manned by the IRGC patrolling the area. According to Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgiff, the US ships were “five kilometers outside Iranian territorial waters”. Yet, this is disputed by another dispatch from the US ships that states, “I am engaged in transit passage in accordance with international law.”
Given that the approximately three-kilometer-wide inbound traffic lane in the Strait of Hormuz is within Iran’s territorial water, the US Navy’s invocation of “transit passage” harking back to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is hardly surprising.
Although the US has yet to ratify the UNCLOS, it has been a strong advocate of its provisions regarding navigational rights, thus explaining the US officers’ availing themselves of “international law”.
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