I run planning to charge foreign ships a toll in exchange for "protection" over the Hormuz Strait, a key trade route and a flash point in the escalating dispute between the United States and the Islamic Republic.
A member of the Iranian Parliament's Bureau said foreign commercial entities should compensate Iran as "the true security provider in the region and international waters", according to the state-owned Tasnim News Agency. Amirhossein Qazizadeh Hashemi claimed that ships entering Iranian waters on their way through the strait and therefore had to pay a toll.
This claim does not go with clearly defined international agreements, says former naval officer Thomas Callender.
"There is no doubt about the rights of commercial vessels and tankers crossing the Straits of Hormuz and that they have the right to pass unhindered." Callender, a senior defense program manager at Heritage Foundation, told Washington Examiner .
"To try to charge substantial tax to pass through this is a form of extortion."
Hormuzestreet is a narrow 21
"It's a bit like the old movies where you want to see the mafia come in and look up in a person's store and say," Look, you want protection from someone who beats your store you have to pay U.S. Callender said. "It's like an Iranian mafia requesting the protection of money from the commercial shipping industry and oil companies through the Gulf."
The Iranian economy is heavily dependent on the oil trade and makes it a mature target for US and international sanctions. The Trump administration has focused on Iranian oil as part of its maximum press campaign against the regime and warned Allies not to do business with Tehran.
In Gibraltar Sunday, British royal marines grabbed and violated an Iranian tanker suspected of transporting oil to Syria, a violation of EU sanctions. Iran is closely related to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who supports his authoritarian regime, as it continues to fight for rebel groups. An Iranian revolutionary guards corps commander threatened to respond to a British ship in response, and the country's defense minister condemned Britain on Monday.
"These days, we saw a threatening action from the British government in the Gibraltar Street against a tanker from the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Amir Hatami. "This is a wrong and wrong act, an action similar to maritime robbery … surely these kinds of robberies will not be tolerated."
Iranian officials denied that the ship was on its way to Syria, even though they did not specify their destination.
While the United States has long maintained a significant military presence in the Persian Gulf, it has grown in recent months as tensions with Iran continue to flare. In addition to a contingent of bombers, patriotic missile systems and troops, the Pentagon sent the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group to the region recently.