Iran directly trying to challenge US maritime dominance by denying freedom of navigation
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Similarly, Iran sees the necessity of negating key U.S. advantages in the global commons as critical to success in any military engagement with the United States. Consequently, Iran is working to modernize and augment its arsenal of A2/AD capabilities and refine its methods to debilitate U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. Iran has a significant mine-laying capability, which presents a threat to larger commercial and military vessels navigating the narrow passageways of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. These anti-ship mines could effectively slow the ships to make them easy targets for attack by land- and sea-based weaponry. The Iranian navy also fields small surface combatants armed with ASCMs and small boats loaded with small arms ranging from man-portable surface-to-air missiles to heavy machine guns and rifles." These capabilities, particularly mines, can present a significant threat to a modern fleet in the shallow, narrow, semi-enclosed waters of the Persian Gulf. Indeed, Iranian leaders can rely upon relatively low-tech weaponry to combat more advanced U.S. forces, especially if they can maintain the element of surprise. However, the presence of anti-ship mines and small boats that may conduct suicide attacks are not only of concern to the United States. Over 90 percent of Persian Gulf oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz,32 making it a strategic chokepoint whose disruption would have severe consequences for the global economy. Even absent a crisis, this increasing militarization of a waterway that is so critical to global resource distribution is a concern for the international community and a threat to maritime security.
Iran has frequently threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for adverse sanctions or military action. Ratifying UNCLOS would nullify Iran’s challenges should it ever choose to close the strait to U.S. or other flagged ships. Moreover, ratifying LOSC will provide the U.S. Navy the strongest legal footing for countering an Iranian anti-access campaign in the Persian Gulf.