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I can assure the hon. Lady that no damage was done to the ship. Regarding the international legal position, we uphold strongly the general principle of freedom of navigation on the high seas. Iran may be entitled under article 51 of the United Nations charter to exercise an inherent right of self-defence by stopping and searching foreign merchant ships on the high seas. However, that is an exceptional right, and can be used only if there are reasonable grounds to suspect a vessel of taking arms to the other side for use in a conflict.
Under article 51 of the United Nations charter there is a specific and inherent right of self-defence by stopping and searching foreign merchant ships on the high seas. The Iranians are using that specific right to stop merchant ships. As my right hon. and learned Friend said earlier, the international convention on hijacking means that terrorists should be brought to trial either by prosecution or extradition.