Nuclear Iran, Reloaded

In the Reloaded version of my blog, I'll write about Iran, its nuclear program, its culture, and most importantly, myself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

15 British marine in Iran

I can't tell whether the captured soldiers were in Iranian waters or not. (Read cernig's intensive follow-up on the story). Even if they were captured in Iranian waters, Iran has shown that her territories are well protected and there is no need to hold the captured soldiers.

I have no doubt that they will be treated well, and that they will be given souvenirs when they leave Iran, but they should be released as soon as possible.

Fun Side of the Story
My wife said something funny: The Iranians captured the Britons because there was a female soldier in their boat that was not wearing head scarf while sailing in the Iranian waters.

The following two articles talk about a part of the story that is never discussed in the mainstream media: How humane the captured marines were treated. Instead, it is told that showing their pictures on TV is against Geneva Convention, something that is only applicable to prisoners of war. Iranians that are starving to have some news about their captured diplomats, think that it is moral to show that these 15 marines are in good conditions. It actually relieved at least one of the families. Even this good intention is downplayed in the western media.

A Peculiar Outrage: The treatment of Faye Turney is wrong - but not in the same league as British and US abuses

Call that humiliation? No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

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Blogger Peyman said...

the funny part was so funny :-),

Wed Mar 28, 04:36:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Travis said...


I think it's interesting that when Iran does something to provoke an international incident such as hold fifteen people captive for several days, you issue a three-line comment. You do not have any stronger feelings about the situation than it is funny that the female passenger may not have been wearing a head scarf?

You may recall my comments on your blog of several months ago explaining that it was Iran's behaviour towards other states that caused it to be viewed in a poor light by those states. This is precisely such an incident and can explain, at least in part, the West's reticence to permit the development of nuclear facilities without outside supervision.

I would be interested to hear whether you think that this is a positive or negative action by Iran, and whether it has any impact at all (or whether it should) on Iran's international profile. Should it be trusted as mature enough to handle nuclear technology? The last time a foreign ship entered Canadian waters unexpected, for example, we let them stay at our port and look around, make repairs. There was no imprisonment and no international incident.

Just a thought.

Hope all is well,


Fri Mar 30, 12:24:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Amir said...

Hello Travis, nice to hear from you again.

--When you say "Iran does something to provoke an international incident", it means that Iran captured the Brits for no reason but "to provoke". It therefore means that you are presuming that the captured were in Iraqi waters and not Iranian waters. That means that you have only been listening to one side of the story (and I can't blame you because you probably have no other major choice). I have written about it elsewhere.

--The only reason for not having more than "three-line comment" is simple: this time of year, I am really busy. But you are right; I should have made my stance clear. I think it was a very stupid move by the Iranian border patrols to capture the 15 Britons. It was more stupid to hold them longer than a couple of days. I hope that they will be released very soon.

--About relating this issue to the nuclear issue: Of course. You won't be able to trust Iran if you only follow the news broadcasted by one of the two parties involved. If you think that Iran wants to have "nuclear facilities without outside supervision", you are wrong (and I don't blame you). Iran has made many compromising offers including construction of an international enrichment facility within Iran. But apparently, you think that Iran wants to keep her facilities out of reach of inspectors.

--About the Canadian example: It would have been nice if the Iranians could escort the British vessels to the Iraqi borders. It would have been VERY nice. But comparing Canada to Iran is out of line. Would Canada allow the ship to be repaired if she was under threat of being attacked? I don't think so.

Fri Mar 30, 03:42:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Behdad Bordbar said...

No they captured by revelutionary guards to check if they are Mahram or not? sailing with a girl in Iranian water is a big sin and crime ha ha

Fri Mar 30, 09:00:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Travis said...


Thanks for your response. You're right, I can only listen to news broadcast in the english language, although I do listen to/read it from a wide variety of sources.

I still think that the Canadian example that I gave was a valid one: fifteen sailors are not a threat to the national security of Iran. The UK ship was investigating Iraq; Iran clearly had the power to escort them out of their waters; capture without warning or providing an option to leave the waters where it is not clear that there is a threat of attack is a violation of the Law of the Sea.

So yes, Canada WOULD have allowed the ship to come to port for repairs even if it was a technical enemy, because it is legally obliged to do so. Ships retain the sovereignty of their home state even if they are inside the country's 20-mile territorial sea, and it is illegal to violate that sovereignty. It was this breach of the law that provokes the international incident.

I hope that clarifies! Thank you for continuing to forward Iranian viewpoints to the West, so that we can read and understand.

Sat Mar 31, 03:59:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Qasem said...

Travis thanks for your clarification. However note that
1-A ship is a large watercraft capable of deep water navigation.
2-A boat is a craft or vessel designed to float on, and provide transport over, water.
Would you please remind me of the international rules coressponding to a boat which crosses the borders.

Sun Apr 01, 02:01:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Amir said...

ِDear Qasem and Travis,

Under the Law of Sea, all ships (not sure whether it will include vessels or not), can "enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea"

Take a look at the definition of "innocent passage":

"Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State".

Iran has a legitimate right to think that British incursions are not “innocent”, because Iran is constantly under threat of being attacked.

So, calling it a breach is not technically correct. Furthermore, under the Law of Sea (section 4 about contiguous zone), Iran has an extended territory of 24 nautical miles outside of its own waters. (and definitely not short by 20 miles).

Travis jaan! (you know what JAAN means, right?), I don't know what a "technical enemy" is. Can you clarify please?

Sun Apr 01, 02:32:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous fati said...

با عرض سلام دوست عزيز. با كامنتهاي شما كاملا موافقم...اما از يك سو هم به نظر مي ايد كه اين حكومت شايد دنبال اين است كه امريكا را تحريك كند...اما چرا؟ ايا امكان
دارد كه حمله نظامي امريكا به نفع حكومت باشد؟ شما چي فكر مي كنيد؟

Mon Apr 02, 02:27:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Amir said...

سلام. من فکر نمیکنم که حمله ی آمیریکا به نفع دولت کنونی ایران باشه. ممکنه که به صورت نسبی قدرت دولت فعلی رو در مقابل میانه رو ها و اصلاحطلب ها بیشتر بکنه، ولی قدرتشون در کل کم خواهد شد.

Mon Apr 02, 03:56:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Travis said...


By "technical enemy" I meant someone that Iran was at war with. Where countries are at peace, they have rights of safe passage through territorial seas, including anchoring, brief stops, etc. The only reason, during peacetime, that Iran is legally allowed to control movement through its territorial seas are for the situations that are set out in Article 20.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), from what I understand, does not limit itself to a differentiation between "boats" and "ships". Planks of wood with starving humans would count if they were chartered by, and flying the flag of, another state. It is the sovereignty of the state of the vessel that counts, not the kind of vehicle. The Law of the Sea that is encoded by the UNCLOS is the oldest of all international law and dates back to before when the Europeans were sailing around the world.

Determination of whether passage is peaceful is made on the basis of facts, not the apprehensions of the persons or states through whose water the passage is made. There is, I add, no rule against monitoring that passage. Where a vessel sails under the flag of a country with which it is at peace (however uneasy), passage is innocent as long as it is for the purpose of transit, and not for the purpose of occupation. This is determinable on the facts by examining the behaviour of the vessel.

Subjective "feelings" have no place in the UNCLOS.

This includes activities of the USA, by the way, in case you think I am being biased: whenever the US sends its ships to a body of water and parks for the purpose of occupation, it too is violating the UNCLOS. The most flagrant violation of the Law of the Sea by the USA that I know of was its occupation of the Japanese territorial sea in the 1800s (and concommitant bombardment of their cities) in an attempt to get them to open their markets to American goods.

The UNCLOS has to be read with an understanding of the context in which it was created: it's a very, very old body of law and not all the rules are included in the Convention. I am no expert, but it seems pretty clear to me that where the mission of English sailors, who were themselves virtually harmless militarily when they were captured, had to do with Iraq and not Iran. Their attempted departure or entry into Iraq via the territorial sea of Iran seems to me to be a clear case of innocent passage. If Iran did not know *why* they were there, it should have asked them or escorted them away instead of capturing them.

Fri Apr 06, 02:59:00 AM 2007  

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