Accession Number : ADA451446

Title :   Re-Flagged Kuwaiti Tankers: The Ultimate Flag of Convenience for an Overall Policy of Neutrality

Descriptive Note : Research thesis

Corporate Author : JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL'S SCHOOL CHARLOTTESVILE VA

Personal Author(s) : Snipes, Michael R.

PDF Url : ADA451446

Report Date : APR 1988

Pagination or Media Count : 93

Abstract : In explaining last summer's decision to place 11 Kuwaiti oil tankers under the American flag, President Reagan articulated the primary policy justification for the action. The policy rationale, however, did not justify the re-flagging from America's stated legal position of neutrality in the Iran-Iraq war. Under traditional international law rules, a nation is free to choose whether it will participate in a war. A nation that chooses to abstain from participation is classified a neutral, and must remain impartial in its dealings with the belligerents. In exchange for meeting its duty of impartiality, the neutral nation has the right of inviolability. As part of this right, neutral nations are permitted to continue to engage in international commerce, and enjoy freedom of the seas. A fair argument can be made that because re-flagging directly assists Kuwait, which in turn has directly assisted the Iraqi war effort, the United States has violated its neutrality. Theoretically, this violation gives Iran the option of treating Kuwait, the United States, or both, as belligerents. This article examines the act of re-flagging the Kuwaiti tankers in light of the traditional international law standard of neutrality, and in the context of the broad spectrum of United States and Kuwaiti actions in the war, to identify their respective legal positions. Although admitting that both nations violated their neutrality at times, the author concludes that they still retain their legal status of neutrality. Kuwait's neutral status legitimizes the flag transfer of 11 Kuwaiti tankers to the United States, and prevents Iran from establishing a legal basis for boarding and searching the vessels while they are exporting oil out of the Persian Gulf. However, the author contends that Iran has the right to board and search the tankers while they are on their way back to Kuwait. He offers a convenient alternative that should be acceptable to all parties.

Descriptors :   *WARFARE, *KUWAIT, *NEUTRAL, *INTERNATIONAL LAW, *TANKER SHIPS, *CRUDE OIL, *UNITED STATES, IRAQ, FLAGS, IRAN, LAW ENFORCEMENT, INTERNATIONAL TRADE, POLICIES, THESES, PERSIAN GULF

Subject Categories : Government and Political Science
      Sociology and Law
      Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE