Panama rejects US, says Iran fleet entitled to cross Canal
The Panamanian authorities have ruled out pressures from the United States, announcing that Iran’s naval fleet is allowed to cross the Panama Canal as long as they follow up international regulations.
According to the AFP, the Panamanian officials raised the issue on Wednesday after some reports on Iran’s decision to dispatch vessels to the strategic waterway.
Regarding the publications on the possible transit of military ships from Iran through the Panama Canal, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) clarifies that it remains in compliance with the international obligations derived from the signed treaties, the entity said in a statement.
The United States built the interoceanic waterway at the beginning of the 20th century, so the passage of the Iranian military vessels would annoy Washington, the AFP reported.
However, the Panama Canal Authority enjoys the might to allow the passage of any vessel that meets the security requirements, pays the toll, and does not commit acts of hostility while it is crossing the canal, the ACP statement said.
In accordance with the 1977 treaty, to which 40 countries of the world have adhered, expressly establishes that Panama declares the neutrality of the Canal both in times of peace and in times of war, the statement added.
Several local media outlets reported the arrival of Iranian Navy ships in the near future. The newspaper La Estrella de Panamá reported on January 13 that Iran plans to position its warships in the Panama Canal as the Iranians are expanding their presence in Latin America.
Former US Governor Jeb Bush assured in a column published on January 16 in The Washington Post that Panama is helping Iran to evade the oil sanctions imposed by the US on Tehran.
The Panama Canal was built and inaugurated in 1914 by the United States, which installed military bases to protect it.
In 1977, then-US President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos signed the treaties that led to the handover of the Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999.
More than 14,000 vessels crossed the 80-kilometer interoceanic route in 2022, according to the ACP, which represents 5% of world maritime trade.
Commander of IRI Navy Rear Admiral Shahram Irani said in December that the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy has been present in almost all strategic straits throughout the globe except two, so it paves the ground for dispatching vessels to one of them this year and the other one in the future.
Rear Admiral Irani called for a more powerful presence of the navy fleets in international waters, including the Panama Canal.endNewsMessage1