New Delhi, Nov 29: After the mysterious ship docked near Lakshadweep for the past 40 days or so raised quite a few eyebrows, the Iranian ship MV Assa is now under the scanner after the Navy confirmed that the vessel is armed with machine guns. Following the revelation, the Indian side has registered its strong protest with Iran over the issue.
The Iranian side had not sought any permission from Indian authorities to dock the ship in Indian territorial waters. The Iranian ambassador to India has been summoned to Delhi's South Block with the matter communicated with full seriousness. He was also told that the ship needs to be shifted from its current location as India is exposed to terror threats from the coast. The fact that the armed ship present in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for a prolonged period poses a grave security threat.
Iran's argument on the issue is that Indian cannot object to a ship in the EEZ. India's territorial waters end at 12 nautical miles with the EEZ extending to 200 nautical miles. With India enjoying full resources in its EEZ, the zone is open for navigational purposes. The Iranian side claimed that they were armed to ward off any pirate threat. New Delhi has however countered the argument by citing that the area is free of pirates.
The fact that boats operate to and fro from MV Assa to drop cargo and return is a cause of worry for India. With conflicting claims made by officials, the suspicion is only heightened when they earlier claimed that they were on their way to Singapore, later claiming that they were headed to Colombo, then China. The ship is still anchored there without moving an inch.
MV Assa is listed as the property of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2010.