The UK’s Dubious Role in the New Tanker War With Iran

Growing evidence suggests that the recent seizure of an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar waters was done at Washington’s behest.

By Prabir Purkayastha, the founding editor of Newsclick, a digital media platform, and cross-posted from Naked Capitalism.

The standoff between the U.S.and Iran is now developing into a reenactment of the tanker wars in the Persian Gulf during the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War. The United Kingdom seems to have become a part of the U.S.scheme of baiting Iran into military action, triggering a war. How else do we make sense of its seizure of an Iranian supertanker with 2 million barrels of crude in the Gibraltar waters? Has Britain added its name to the B-team (named after the alliterative names of its members:  John Bolton, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, and Mohammad bin Salman) against Iran? Or is the UK, with Brexit looming over it, buttering the U.S.’s bread?

The Strait of Hormuz, the outlet from the Persian Gulf, is the world’s biggest oil transit choke point. A new war would have enormous consequences for the world, particularly India, China and Japan—with their main source of oil coming through this route.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was originally agreed to by six countries—the U.S., Russia, China, three European Union countries (the EU-3: France, the UK, Germany)—and Iran. The JCPOA led Iran to limit its nuclear program in lieu of the withdrawal of sanctions on it. Are the EU-3, along with Russia and China, willing to confront the U.S.on its reimposing of crippling sanctions on Iran that are in violation of JCPOA? And are they willing to work out a mechanism to pay for Iran’s oil, and supply it with vital goods that its economy needs?

The story of U.S.exceptionalism—of holding others to international law which it refuses to abide by—is a long one. Of this long list, the U.S.’s complaint to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board charging Iran with violation of the JCPOA agreement must rank as one of its most brazens acts of hypocrisy. Predictably, the EU-3, despite being the U.S.’s NATO allies, could not publicly endorse this line. They recognized that a U.S.charge against Iran of violating the JCPOA must take into account that the U.S.has not only abandoned the JCPOA, but also imposed fresh economic and nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

Another example of U.S. exceptionalism is the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, which the U.S.has repeatedly raised with respect to the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea. The U.S. has yet to ratify the treaty, while arguing that others must not only be held to the letter of the convention, but also the U.S.interpretation

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