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Is The Iran Conflict Really Cooling Down?

A couple of weeks ago we have run a special report, breaking down Iran’s actions against the background of the Trump Administration ending all waivers and levying a full-on sanctions regime on Teheran. A discriminating reader might have even foreseen the ongoing tanker wars – after all, amongst all the clandestinity and forged loading documents, murky ship-to-ship transfers in the Persian Gulf and GPS transponders switched off, Iran’s access to currency is waning by the day, amplifying the Rouhani government’s fragility vis-à-vis the hardliner conservative circles. The UK’s recent seizure of NIOC’s Grace I oil tanker, in floating storage for several months only to start off towards Syria in early June, stirs up the hornets’ nest without any real sense of where things would go from here.

The legal complexity of the “Grace I case” is quite astounding. Gibraltar’s territorial waters, in which the detention took place, are claimed by three different nations, namely the United Kingdom, Spain and Morocco. When Spain ratified UNCLOS in the 1980s, it did so by declaring that the territory of Gibraltar is not entitled to a territorial sea and in the absence of a comprehensive claim resolution, Madrid has kept its stance ever since, despite its seeming untenability in court. In practice, however, the United Kingdom is asserting a 3 nautical mile territorial sea zone around Gibraltar. So where does this leave the…




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