Iran's arrest of sailors was legitimate, says former UK envoy
Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray Monday supported Iran's decision to arrest 15 UK marines in the Persian Gulf last week.
"In international law the Iranian government were not out of order in detaining foreign military personnel in waters to which they have a legitimate claim," Murray said, who was also a previous head of Foreign Office's maritime section, carrying out negotiations on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"For the Royal Navy, to be interdicting shipping within the twelve mile limit of territorial seas in a region they know full well is subject to maritime boundary dispute, is unnecessarily provocative," he said.
The former envoy said that this was "especially true as apparently
they were not looking for weapons but for smuggled vehicles attempting
to evade car duty."
While working for the Foreign Office, Murray was also head of the UK's Embargo Surveillance Centre, analyzing Iraqi attempts to evade sanctions and providing information to UK military forces and to other governments to effect physical enforcement of the embargo.
He said that under international law, Britain would have been allowed
to enter Iranian territorial waters if in "hot pursuit"
of terrorists, slavers or pirates. But added "they weren't doing
any of those things."
He criticized the "ridiculous logic" of Prime Minister
Tony Blair, saying he was creating a mess that "gets us further
into trouble." The Daily Mirror, which has been an outspoken
opponent of the Iraq war, reminded its readers Monday that "if
the UK had never joined the disastrous invasion of Iraq, the 15 would
not have been put in a position where they could be seized."
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