US-Iran naval encounter ‘very dangerous’

Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze. © MC3 J. Alexander DELGADO / Navy Media Content Operations (NMCO)
A US warship in Iranian territorial waters could have little to do with innocent passage and Iran had every right to try to chase it away feeling its security threatened, said independent researcher and writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.

A US Navy ship reportedly fired warning shots at an Iranian military vessel which sailed too close in the Persian Gulf. 

RT: The US fired warning shots at Iranian ships near Iranian waters? A bit of a funny situation, isn’t it?

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich: Well, yes. According to [Stars and] Stripes, the American military magazine, they were actually inside Iran’s territorial waters. I think it is very important to make that very clear – they were inside Iran’s territorial waters. In fact, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that it allows the innocent passage of vessels, and that costal states should not impede this passage. However, two things to bear in mind here: first, neither the US, nor Iran has ratified this treaty. Secondly, even if we disregard the fact that they are not signatories - innocent passage here stipulates what is very important, because what it means is that if a costal state feels that its peace, good order, or security is being threatened by vessel, it has every right to stop the passing of that vessel.

I think that anybody would agree that a US warship does not sit well with innocent passage, or with the securing of peace. So it can be understandable why, with the given hostilities of the two nations, Iran would want to chase it away. Importantly we have to bear in mind that these US warships in that tiny stretch of water not only threaten the security of Iran as a sovereign nation…In fact, a few years ago they collided with the Japanese oil tanker. It is really fortunate that there wasn’t a loss of life, or that the oil spill didn’t damage the environment. It is very important to point out that it was inside Iran’s territorial waters, and that Iran acted within its right in kind of chasing away the US warships.

The boats failed to respond to radio comms. #iran

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RT: Earlier on Thursday, the US was making a fuss about the previous naval encounter which saw several Iranian ships allegedly coming “dangerously close” to American vessels. If these incidents keep carrying on and we see some escalation here, could we see some major diplomatic or some other international scandal?

SS-U: Absolutely. I think what’s happening here is very dangerous. In fact, it had been mentioned on several websites, one of them an Israeli website, that the hope was to provoke Iran into reacting. The hope was that the US would manage to provoke Iran, so that Iran would attack …

I think it is very important to understand that the US has designs on all the major waters around the world. We see what it is doing in the South China Sea. We know that it is arming, training, and giving guidance to Saudi Arabia and that coalition to attack Yemen, so that it can control the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

In fact, a 19th century strategist, Admiral Alfred Mahan had said that the control of the waves would enable you to control the world. Now with everything that the humans have invented it would seem that it… no longer applies, but clearly America doesn’t feel that way, because it does want to control the maritime choke points around the world, and does control. It is not just a passage of oil – that is also passage of finished goods and food. So its acts are so provocative and so dangerous, that if we did have a proper UN, I am sure they would have something to say about it. But unfortunately the US is the biggest financial supporter of the UN…

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.