Iran has once again rejected Israel’s allegations concerning the maritime threats allegedly posed by Tehran and called on the United Nations Security Council to address Israel’s malign activities on the high seas.
In a statement to the UN body on Monday, Zahra Ershadi, ambassador and chargé d’affaires ad interim of the permanent mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, addressed the overall situation in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the wake of a recent attack on an Israeli-operated oil tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Ershadi first pointed to the increasing importance of seas and oceans in terms of their role in international trade and then highlighted Iran’s interest in ensuring maritime security.
“According to the World Bank Group, over 80% of international trade are transported by sea and the volume of seaborne trade is expected to double by 2030 and quadruple by 2050. These figures alone prove the importance of oceans and seas in the global economy and confirm the vital importance of, and the need for, the perseveration of maritime security as a global common good,” she said, adding, “Enjoying the longest coasts in such strategically important waterways as the Persian Gulf, the Oman Sea, and the Hurmuz Strait, as well as high maritime shipping capacity, and also as an important oil and gas producing country, the Islamic Republic of Iran is highly interested in, and attaches great importance to, maritime security.”
The Iranian diplomat noted that maritime security is key to ensuring freedom of navigation, facilitating international communication, promoting peaceful uses of the seas and oceans and their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the preservation of the marine environment, as well as promoting the economic and social advancement of all peoples and strengthening of peace, security, cooperation and friendly relations among all nations.
“As a basic principle, the primary responsibility for ensuring maritime security, including by effectively combating maritime crimes notably piracy and armed robbery at sea, rests with individual States consistent with their relevant obligations under international law. When needed, efforts to counter maritime crimes may be complemented, at the regional level, by cooperation and partnership of States of the region concerned, and at the high seas, through international cooperation. Nevertheless, all such activities must be conducted in full conformity with the basic principles of international law, particularly full respect for the sovereignty of States and refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of States,” she continued.
Ershadi also took a jab at U.S. coercive measures against Iran, which hampered the country’s access to technologies required to combat criminal activities. “While there are a comprehensive set of statutory regulations as well as a considerable capacity in combating maritime crimes, the imposition of Unilateral Coercive Measures – which is contrary to international law and the United Nations Charter — has hampered our access to new technologies and equipment commensurate with the new trends and the level of advancement of criminal activities. Despite that, and fully committed to its relevant international obligations, the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued to significantly contribute to the promotion of maritime security, inter alia by combating maritime crimes in particular piracy,” she said.
Ershadi also underlined the Iranian naval forces’ contribution to the international efforts to combat piracy. “It has been now for well over a decade that the naval forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are deployed in the Indian Ocean and the adjacent areas in support of international efforts in combatting piracy therein. This has repeatedly been acknowledged by the United Nations Secretary-General in his relevant reports and commended by the Security Council in its numerous resolutions.”
“Likewise, the sixth meeting of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) – comprising of 24 Member States and seeking to enhance maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean — was held from 22 to 25 April 2018 in Tehran. During its chairmanship of IONS and its working group on maritime security between 2018 to 2021, our Navy prepared the draft of IONS maritime security guidelines and in June and November 2019 held two planning conferences in Bandar Abbas for the preparation of IONS 2020 maritime exercise,” she continued.
Ershadi added, “Additionally, according to a decision of the seventh meeting of the IONS in July 2021, a regional maritime security centre will be launched in Iran’s Chabahar Port for the Indian Ocean rim countries, enabling the regional States to dispatch their representatives to the centre and exchange information aimed at ensuring maritime security.”
She responded to the accusations leveled by the UK and the U.S. against Iran in the issue of the Israeli-operated oil tanker and described them as politically motivated.
The oil tanker, Mercer Street, was attacked off the coast of Oman on July 29 while travelling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah. The oil tanker, managed by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. Zodiac Maritime said two crewmen, a British and Romanian national, died in the attack.
“With profound sadness, we understand the incident onboard the M/T Mercer Street on 29 July 2021 has resulted in the deaths of two crew members on board,” the UK-based Israeli company said in a statement on Friday afternoon, a day after the attack.
Israel, the U.S. and the UK blamed Iran for the attack without presenting any evidence to support their accusations.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that Tel Aviv knows with certainty Iran attacked the Mercer Street ship and will respond to it.
“I determine, with absolute certainty – Iran carried out the attack against the ship,” Bennett stated, according to the Jerusalem Post. “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake.”
He noted, “In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way.”
Over the last few days, Washington and London continued to reiterate their allegations regarding Mercer Street.
Ershadi once again rejected these allegations. “Regarding the politically motivated statements made by the United States and the United Kingdom in this meeting against Iran concerning the Mercer Street vessel incident, I reiterate, once again, our firm rejection of these unsubstantiated allegations,” she said.
Ershadi suggested that the Mercer Street incident was a false flag operation conducted by Israel. “The massive presence of military forces of these countries including in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea has always been the main source of regional insecurity and instability, and fabrications and false flag operations, including by Israel, have been used to justify such unwarranted presence or to invade regional countries. Very recently, one of the senior military sources of these countries has said: “Everything points to the drone being launched from Yemen”, and afterwards their special forces dispatched to Yemen to apparently “hunt down terrorists behind the drone attack”. Everything is quite telling and clear. This also proves that these countries have not learned from their failures in the aggression against the Yemeni people,” she stated.
The Iranian diplomat noted, “All such allegations are the repetition of fabrications pumped to media by the Israeli regime immediately after that incident. There is no irrefutable, verifiable and conclusive evidence to substantiate these grave accusations. What they try to portray as definite hard evidence are nothing but certain photos which prove nothing.”
She added, “Such accusations can in no way whitewash the terrorist acts of the Israeli regime against commercial navigation. Only in less than two years, this regime has attacked over 10 commercial vessels carrying either oil or humanitarian goods in regional seas. Similarly, Israel’s hue and cry on the Mercer Street incident cannot deflect attention from other destabilizing activities and adventurism of the Israeli regime in the region. In addition to its policy of deception and fabrication, it is an open secret that Israel is the master in conducting false flag operations.”
Ershadi said Israel is playing the victim and therefore it must end all its malign activities. “Rather than playing the victim and demonizing others, the Israeli regime must immediately stop all its irresponsible policies, aggressions and crimes as well as unlawful and inhumane practices, which have long been the main source of threat, instability and insecurity in such a volatile region as the Middle East and beyond,” she said.
The diplomat called on the UN Security Council to be aware of the traps set by Israel and take action on Israel’s destabilizing activities.
“The Security Council must live up to its charter-mandated responsibilities, put an end to its longstanding inaction and procrastination with respect to the systematic violation of international law by the Israeli regime and its criminal and destabilizing activities, and hold that regime accountable for all its unlawful practices that include committing four core international crimes. The Council must also remain fully vigilant and avoid being trapped by the fabrications of the Israeli regime – which, as usual, are blindly supported by certain Western countries in the Council; those who have prevented the Council in the past seven decades from taking any action against the criminal acts of the Israeli regime, emboldening it to commit, with total impunity, more crimes with more brutality,” Ershadi stated.
She also underlined Iran’s determination in ensuring maritime security. “In conclusion, I reiterate the principled policy and resolute determination of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, in maintaining and promoting maritime security in the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Hurmuz Strait and the Oman Sea as well as contributing to maritime security, ensuring freedom of navigation and combatting maritime crimes including piracy in the Indian Ocean and the adjacent areas. We also stand ready to actively and constructively cooperate with the littoral states of the aforementioned areas to promote regional peace and security,” Ershadi noted.
This post was originally published by Tehran Times. Click here to read.