Iran has threatened to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, if the West seeks to impose sanctions on its oil exports and has carried out a series of ostentatious military operations: drills, test shoots missile, test nuclear fuel bar at the beginning of the new year 2012. But what is the legal basis for Iran to “lock” the strait “the most important artery of the international oil transport system”?
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How important is the Strait of Hormuz?
The Strait of Hormuz is located between the Gulf of Oman in the southeast and the Persian Gulf in the southwest, on the northern coast is Iran and on the southern coast are the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, a part of Oman’s land. Both the Iranian and Omani governments claim they own 12 nautical miles of the Strait of Hormuz.
There is no special standard for determining the length of the Strait of Hormuz, but the maritime boundary criterion between Iran and Oman can be applied for this determination. Accordingly, the length of this border line is 202.1 km (124.8 nautical miles).
The longest distance of the Strait of Hormuz
The longest distance of the Strait of Hormuz is 84 km (from the shore of Bandar Abbas in the north to the northeast point of the coast of Musandam in the south), and the shortest distance, estimated at 33.6 km wide.
The seabed in the Strait of Hormuz slopes from north to south. Most of the water in the Strait of Hormuz is shallow, especially the northern part and thus makes it difficult for large ships to navigate. The deep water is located close to the southern coast.
However, to the west of the strait, within the Persian Gulf, the situation reversed and the deep water was in Iranian territorial waters. Meanwhile, in 1979, the Omani government announced to the International Maritime Advisory Organization (IMCO) that it could not guarantee the safety of ships crossing the road between the low-lying Quawain Island. Musandam Island’s more rocky and rocky coastline.
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Legal basis for Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz
The legitimate reasons that Iran may use when blocking the Strait of Hormuz is the Geneva Convention on the territorial sea and contiguous area in 1958. Although Iran is one of the countries that signed the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the This family has not approved it. Consequently, this Convention is not legally binding on Tehran.
Article 14 of the 1958 Geneva Convention stipulates that: Ships of all states, whether coastal or not, enjoy the right to cross the territorial sea provided that it does not prejudice peace, security and order of coastal countries.
In addition, section 1 of Article 16 of the 1958 Geneva Convention also allows a coastal state to require foreign vessels to leave its territorial sea in case these ships violate the laws of the coastal state. . This is also the content reiterated by the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Excerpt from Section 3, Article 16 of the Geneva Convention: Under the provisions of paragraph 4, the coastal State – without discrimination among foreign ships, may suspend transits of foreign ships temporarily if the Suspension is essential to protect the security of coastal states. The suspension takes effect only after it is properly announced.