TEHRAN – July 8, 2019 – The Iranian parliament is considering the option of collecting tolls from ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, an Iranian parliamentarian said.
“If Iran is the true guarantor [of security] in the region and in international waters, then Parliament believes that the shopping centers and all the ships in the region must pay the cost in the form of a toll, according to international standards,” Amir Hosein Qazizadeh Hashemi said to the newspaper Sobhe No.
According to the legislator, the toll “could be imposed on hostile countries, that is, on those who have no business relations with us and recognized the sanctions of the United States.”
The corresponding bill, he said, has not yet been approved for official debate because of objections from political forces seeking normalization for Iran and find it convenient to maintain the status quo in the Persian Gulf.
The Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Gulf of Oman to the Persian Gulf, is an important strategic route, responsible for more than a third of the sea oil traffic.
Over the past few weeks, the US has announced the deployment of major military reinforcements to the Middle East, including an attack group with an aircraft carrier, a guided missile destroyer, reconnaissance aircraft, B-52 bombers, F-15 fighters and Patriot missile systems.
The increase in US military presence in the area is aimed at containing Iran and its allies, which Washington accuses of sabotage against oil tankers.
This also comes as last month Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Salman urged the international community to take a “decisive stand” against what he believes to be an Iranian aggression. The interview was given to the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“The Iranian regime did not respect the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to Tehran and while he was there he responded to his efforts by attacking two oil tankers, one of which was Japanese,” Bin Salman was quoted as saying.
“We do not want a war in the region … but we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” he added.
On June 13, two tankers, Kokuka Courageous, registered by Panama, operated by Japan’s Kokuka Sangyo Co, and Front Altair, with flag of the Marshall Islands, belonging to Norway’s Frontline, were hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz.
Soon after the explosions, Japan’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that both ships were carrying “cargo related to Japan.”
The United States claimed that Iran had attacked the ships, but has yet to provide any substantial evidence to support this claim.
The US military subsequently released a video showing alleged Iranian forces removing a mine from one of the oil tankers a mine that did not explode. The video, however, did not show the names of the boats or flags that could help substantiate the allegations. Iran has denied all charges of having a role in the incident.
The Saudi prince also noted in the interview that his country’s strategic relations with the United States would not be affected by “media campaigns or some positions published by US entities,” referring to media attention to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in 2018.