Iran’s seizure of the Marshall Island’s flagged Maersk Tigris cargo ship has lead to important discussions about the United States’ legal responsibilities to respond, under treaties with its one-time trust territory and current protectorate.
But first one must address the legality of Iran’s arrest of the vessel. The Islamic Republic makes a very legalistic case for the detention, arguing it results from a decade-old Iranian court judgement against Maersk, the which chartered the vessel.
Maritime law in fact allows nations to arrest foreign vessels for certain kind of claims, or maritime liens, and the cargo dispute between Iran and Maersk qualifies. However, the arrest of ships engaged in innocent transit is limited under the United Convention of the Law of the Sea, and general custom, to a limited set of claims involving the vessel itself. www.washingtonpos...
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