Iran using excessive claims to restrict U.S. freedom of navigation rights in Straits of Hormuz
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Similarly, Iran has adopted a combination of overt threats and lawfare to pursue its anti-access or sea denial strategy throughout the Persian Gulf and the approaches to the Straits of Hormuz.86 Tehran’s strategy also focuses on attempting to market to the world community erroneous territorial and jurisdictional claims that are inconsistent with the rules of the Convention. These claims include a series of excessive straight baselines which purport to convert international water into Iranian territorial seas,87 the assertion of Iranian state security powers in the contiguous zone,88 a requirement for foreign warships and nuclear-powered vessels to obtain advance consent for conducting innocent passage,89 and a prohibition on “foreign military activities and practices” in the Iranian EEZ.90 One Iranian analyst has gone even further, suggesting the entire Persian Gulf constitutes a closed political region that permits “innocent passage” of vessels throughout the Gulf, but only so long as they are not conducting “coercive measures” against Iran aimed at undermining Tehran’s sovereignty.91
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.