December 21, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10389

Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan' Editor Hossein Shariatmadari: 'Iran Has The Right And The Capability To Close The Strait Of Hormuz... If It Sees That Its National Interests Are In Danger'; 'There Is No Reason For Hostile Countries To Be Allowed Through The Strait, Which Is In Our Territorial Waters'

December 21, 2022
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 10389

Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan, where he represents Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote in the newspaper's December 14, 2022 editorial that Iran has the legal right and capability to close the Strait of Hormuz to vessels belonging to countries "hostile" to it if it feels that its national interests are at risk. He added that Iran can seize the cargos of these ships – including oil, commercial goods, and weapons – as compensation for "financial damages" caused to Iran by the countries that own them. "It is Iran's legal right to confront these countries' acts of terror in our land," he wrote, referring to the Iranian regime's claims that countries hostile to Iran are responsible for the recent antiregime protests in the country, and referring to the economic sanctions against Iran.

Strait of Hormuz

In the editorial, which is titled "Are We Not the Nation of Imam Hossein?" Shariatmadari claimed that the international passage in the Strait of Hormuz is actually through a "strait located in Iran's territorial waters." He also stressed: "There is no reason for hostile countries to be allowed through the strait, which is in our territorial waters."

The following is a translation of the editorial by Shariatmadari:

"Iran Has Capabilities And Means Of Leverage That Will Cause The Terrorist America And Europe To Regret Their Support Of The Terrorists" Within Iran

"It was reported in the news that our Foreign Ministry has released a statement announcing sanctions on several centers, legal entities, and bodies in the European Union. This action on the part of the Foreign Ministry against the countries of Europe, as well as the summoning of their ambassadors to express [Iran's] protest against them, is praiseworthy. However, amid the joint war that our external enemies have launched and have been waging against our country [a reference to the anti-regime protests in Iran in recent months], and while they continue to violate all international laws and openly support with money, weapons, and propaganda the brutal crimes of the hooligans and the terrorists, to the extent that they offer a price for the assassination of respected individuals, [our] sanctions against European or American figures, or summoning their ambassadors to the Foreign Ministry, lack the necessary proportionality in light of the continued hostility of these countries. In fact, the deterrence factor [of these actions] can barely be considered greater than zero!

"Of course, these actions are almost the maximum that can be expected, given the defined roles of the Foreign Ministry, and in this regard the ministry should be praised. However, there is a saying that 'in order to move, all four of the cart's wheels must turn together.' Therefore it must be said that Iran has many capabilities and means of leverage that will cause the terrorist America and Europe to regret their support of the terrorists [within Iran] – capabilities and means of leverage have not been used or have been used less [than they might have been]. These forms of leverage are considered legitimate and legal according to international law. In this article, we will mention just one of these means of leverage that Iran has, and we will save the rest for later. Read on!

"The Strait of Hormuz is the second busiest strait in the world. Every day, almost 18 million barrels of oil pass through it – 42% of the crude oil carried by oil tankers worldwide. According to the Geneva and Jamaica Conventions of 1952 and 1982 about 'the legal framework of international sea routes and vessels' passage rights,' Iran has the right and the capability to close the Strait of Hormuz to all oil tankers, and even to vessels carrying commercial goods or weapons, if it sees that its national interests are in danger, and there is no reason for hostile countries to be allowed through the strait, which is in our territorial waters.

"It is Iran's absolute and legal right to not allow tankers and vessels carrying commercial goods belonging to hostile countries from passing in the Strait of Hormuz. This is based on Articles 14-23 of the 1958 Geneva Conventions [on the Law of the Sea] and Articles 17-37 of the 1982 Jamaica convention [i.e. the United Nations Convention on the Law and the Sea], which concern coastal waters and passage rights. We shall address some of these cases:

"A. Article 14 of the 1958 Geneva Convention says: 'ships of all States, whether coastal or not, shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.'

"B. The fourth clause of this Article says: 'Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security of the coastal State.'

"C. Article 14.4 and Article 16.1 of the 1958 Geneva Convention give the coastal state (which in our case is Islamic Iran) the responsibility to determine whether the vessels passing through these waters are harmless to their security.

"D. Article 16, Clause 1 of the 1958 Geneva Convention says: 'The coastal State may take the necessary steps to prevent passage which is not innocent.'

"E. Article 16.3 says: 'The coastal State may, without discrimination amongst foreign ships, suspend temporarily the innocent passage of foreign ships in order to protect its security.'

"F. Article 16.3 of the 1958 Geneva Convention recognizes the rights of the coastal states – in this case, Islamic Iran – to prevent ships whose passage is not identified as harmless and says that if the coastal state makes this decision, it must notify the public ahead of time.

"In November 2011 (11 years ago), when the U.S. Congress was debating the embargo on Iranian oil, we mentioned in an article that the best and most effective way to confront the embargo on Iranian oil exports is to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers passing through this route, based on Articles 14-23 of the Geneva Convention and Articles 17-37 of the Jamaica Convention. We wrote that under those circumstances, blocking the strait is also our legal right.

"America, Europe, and some Arab countries immediately reacted to this suggestion. The French journal Le Monde wrote that Iran had the ability to close the Strait of Hormuz and that Congress' ratification of the law instituting the embargo on Iranian oil could be regrettable for the U.S., Europe, and their allies in the region. The American newspaper Boston Globe wrote that Iran had the ability to close the Strait of Hormuz at any moment, and that this would stop the export of millions of barrels of oil per day. Closing the strait would be the harshest response against America's interests, and in addition the explosive rise in the price of oil within a few days would lead to irreversible damage to the West's economy. Ahmad Al-Attar, the Emirati pundit and a prominent expert on defense and energy issues, said that the planting of mines in the Persian Gulf, and particularly in the Strait of Hormuz, was the primary threat that should be taken into consideration. He mentioned that in 1988, an American ship, the Samuel B. Roberts, had hit an Iranian mine and was nearly destroyed. Al-Attar said that in such a situation, it would be almost impossible to confront Iran. At the same time, the U.S. energy information agency pointed out that the Strait of Hormuz was the only waterway shared by the eight countries on the Persian Gulf, and that the blocking of the strait would be catastrophic. There were dozens of similar responses."

"The West's Concern Regarding The Closing Of The Strait Of Hormuz...  Is A Clear Indication That Closing [It Is] Legal"

"The West's concern regarding the closing of the Strait of Hormuz mentioned in that article is a clear indication that closing the Strait of Hormuz to the countries supporting the terrorists in our country [i.e. the anti-regime protesters] is first of all legal, secondly within Iran's capabilities, and thirdly would cause the countries supporting the riots and the terror in Iran to face fragile and paralyzing conditions. Another point can be added: Iran's military power and regional status have increased significantly since 11 years ago, and the Western countries – particularly America and Europe – are facing dozens of paralyzing crises such as the fuel crisis, the food crisis, the security crisis, the employment crisis, crises of domestic unrest, and so forth. So closing the Strait of Hormuz [today] will have a paralyzing effect much greater than it would have had 11 years ago.

"Our former president [Hassan] Rouhani said on July 22, 2018, in response to American and European threats to prevent Iran from exporting oil: 'Anybody with any understanding of politics would refrain from threatening to stop Iran's oil exports. We have many straits; the Strait of Hormuz is just one of them.' In light of Rouhani's statement, the Leader [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] said: 'The President's statement during his recent trip to Europe, saying that if Iran's oil doesn't get exported, then neither will the oil of any other country in the area, is an important statement that reflects the policy and approach of the [Iranian] regime.'

"The Foreign Ministry has an obligation to follow with seriousness such positions as the President's. The martyr [Qassem] Soleimani, the commander of the hearts and of the continuing pain of the defense of Iran and of the oppressed people throughout the world, wrote in a letter to Rouhani: 'His Excellency's statements that were quoted in the media, [saying] that if Iran's oil isn't exported, then oil from the entire region cannot be exported either, as well as the important statements you made regarding Iran's policy towards the Zionist regime, are a source of pride and honor… I kiss your hand in response to these wise and correct words, which came at the right time, and we stand at your service in all the countries that support the Islamic regime.'

"Here I should mention the wise and authoritative view of the Imam [Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic regime]. Upon learning that, during the imposed [Iran-Iraq] War, America was planning to send its warships to the Persian Gulf, he turned to the military commanders and said to them: 'If it's up to me, I will shoot the first ship the moment that it enters the Persian Gulf…'

"But unfortunately, Rouhani was not a man of confrontation with America and Europe! And due to [his] faith in the West, he caused irreversible damage!

"Based on the documents and evidence that we have mentioned, closing the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers and commercial vessels belonging to Western countries is Iran's legal right in confronting their terrorist acts in our country. We can even seize some of their commercial shipments as compensation for the financial damage that they have caused us.

"Now, take a second look at Imam [Khomeini's] views regarding warships entering the Persian Gulf, at the view of the master [Khamenei] regarding Rouhani's statement [in 2018], and at the views of the martyr Soleimani on the subject. As Soleimani said, 'We are the nation of Imam Hossein'.[1] Is this not so?!"[2]


[1] A reference to Imam Hossein bin 'Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the third Shi'ite Imam. He was killed in the Battle of Karbala, in today's Iraq, in 680 CE, and his death was the most pivotal event in the dispute between Shi'ites and Sunnis over the leadership of the Muslim world. Hossein chose to die in hopeless battle for the sake of Allah, as an expression of his love for Islam.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), December 14, 2022.

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