Iran’s seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz raises the stakes in that tense, troubled region. Tehran is trying to force the world to address its concerns in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the multilateral agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. The act, which looks like officially sanctioned piracy, underscores the growing danger in a waterway that is a lifeline for global energy supplies. The rest of the world must come up with ways to secure passage through the strait — but that is only an interim step. Real stability can only result when the United States and Iran strike a new deal.
The most recent crisis was triggered by the seizure of a British ship, the Stena Impero, by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran claimed that it violated maritime law by polluting the waterway, switching off tracking devices to avoid Iranian monitoring and colliding with a fishing boat. Balaclava-wearing commandos boarded the ship by helicopter. The ship was taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where, in a final insulting gesture, it was shown on Iranian TV flying the Iranian flag.
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