Iran's regime has been attacking commercial oil tankers at sea, killing crew members and blatantly violating international law while the Biden administration, the EU, and the UN Security Council say not a word. On July 30, the oil tanker MV Mercer Street (pictured) was attacked by an armed drone 280km from the port of Al-Daqam in the Sea of Oman. Two crew members, one British and one Romanian, were killed in the attack. (Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images)
The Iranian regime has ratcheted up its assaults at sea while the Biden administration and the European Union continue pressing to revive the disastrous Obama nuclear deal and lift sanctions against the ruling mullahs.
On July 30, 2021, the oil tanker MV Mercer Street was attacked by an armed drone 280km from the port of Al-Daqam in the Sea of Oman. Two crew members, one British and one Romanian, were killed in the attack. The ship is Japanese-owned and Liberian-flagged, and is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a British company that is one of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer's businesses.
Many countries -- including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and Israel -- concluded that the Iranian regime was behind the deadly attack. Following an investigation by an expert team from the US Defense Department, which inspected the MV Mercer Street following the attack, the US Central Command wrote in a statement:
"The use of Iranian designed and produced one way attack 'kamikaze' UAVs is a growing trend in the region. They are actively used by Iran and their proxies against coalition forces in the region, to include targets in Saudi Arabia and Iraq."
A few days after the attack, instead of taking appropriate action against the Iranian regime, the European Union stated it is optimistic view that it could revive the nuclear deal with Iran. In spite of the deadly attack and in spite of the fact that the Iranian regime made a mass murderer its new president, a senior EU official pointed out that:
"We still think that the most likely scenario is an agreement. What I cannot tell you is when and [under] what conditions. They [the Iranian leaders] will come back the moment they have completed all the different steps in the new administration. So my understanding is [that] we are talking about sometime at the beginning of September".
If it were Israel that carried out such a deadly attack, the international community would be up in arms trying to take tough actions against the tiny state.
This is not the first time that the Iranian regime has been implicated in attacking commercial oil tankers in the recent years. In May of 2019, for example, four tankers were targeted close to the port of Fujairah, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. A month later, on June 13, 2019, two tankers -- the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian Front Altair -- crossing the Gulf of Oman were also sabotaged with explosives. One tanker went up in flames and both were left adrift. A few weeks later, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), emboldened, broadcast a video boasting about how its commandos, wearing black ski masks and military fatigues, descended from a helicopter onto a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz and victoriously seized the ship.
While the Iranian mullahs have been busy breaching two critical international laws, the international community -- especially the United States, EU and UN Security Council -- have remained silent. The Iranian regime is violating the internationally agreed UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Under part three of UNCLOS, "Straits Used For International Navigation," Article 44, the agreement stipulates that:
"States bordering straits shall not hamper transit passage and shall give appropriate publicity to any danger to navigation or over flight within or over the strait of which they have knowledge. There shall be no suspension of transit passage."
UNCLOS also clarifies:
"Transit passage means the exercise in accordance with this Part of the freedom of navigation and overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of the strait between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone."
Second, Iran's aggressive behavior and its assaults are a blatant violation of the UN General Assembly's "Definition of Aggression," which "calls upon all states to refrain from all acts of aggression and other uses of force contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among states in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations." This resolution clarifies that the following can be classed as acts of aggression: "The blockade of the ports or coasts of a state by the armed forces of another state," and "an attack by the armed forces of a state on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another state."
In short, Iran's regime has been attacking commercial oil tankers at sea, killing crew members and blatantly violating international law while the Biden administration, the European Union, and the UN Security Council say not a word. Worse, the Biden administration and the EU probably still want to revive the catastrophic nuclear deal and lift sanctions against Iran's lawless and predatory regime.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu