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Kuwait submits letter to UNSC pres. over Fisht Al-Eij platform

Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi
Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi

NEW YORK, Sept 5 (KUNA) -- Kuwait has presented a letter to the UN Security Council in a response to a letter submitted earlier by Iraq to the UN body over Kuwait's construction of a platform in Fisht Al-Eij, a piece of land located within Kuwait's territorial water.
The Kuwaiti letter, dated 20 August, was handed by Kuwait's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi to the UNSC president in response to the Iraqi letter, which was addressed to the UNSC president on 7 August, which was issued as an official UNSC document.
Ambassador Al-Otaibi said in statements to KUNA that "the Iraqi letter focused on the maritime area beyond border mark No. 162, or the still undemarcated territorial sea area between the two countries, "Iraq wanted to prove and document its stance that this area is not demarcated," he noted.
Al-Otaibi clarified that these letters are usually not reviewed or deliberated by the UN Security Council. They are meant to document countries stances, he said.
"We must distinguish between the UN-drawn borders and relevant international obligations on both countries on one hand and the territorial sea, which has not been demarcated yet," he argued.
He affirmed that Iraq and Kuwait were committed to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution No. 833, which determined land and sea borders. "There is no dispute over land and sea borders up until the border mark No. 162," he pointed out.
Al-Otaibi reiterated that Iraq abides by the UN Security Council resolutions and the UN-drawn border lines with Kuwait. The demarcation of the joint maritime border beyond the 162 mark is a purely bilateral issue and has nothing to do with Iraq's international obligations, to which it is fully committed, he said.
On another issue, the Kuwaiti envoy expressed hope that Iraq would complete payment of compensations of the occupation of Kuwait in coming two years.
"Iraq is also committed to implement its other obligations relating to knowing the fate of prisoners of war and missing persons and returning Kuwaiti property," he said. Al-Otaibi stressed that there is progress and cooperation between Kuwait and Iraq for accelerating the implementation of these obligations, which are stipulated by UN Security Council resolutions.
He pointed out that the issue of Fisht Al-Eij platform was raised during bilateral talks and there is correspondence between the two countries over it. Kuwait called on Iraq more than once to start negotiations to settle this issue due to its importance for both sides, as settling it would help build mutual confidence and strengthen bilateral relations, he underlined.
According to the letter, submitted by Al-Otiabi, Kuwait confirmed that its territorial waters have been determined by a decree issued on 17 December 1967, on the breadth of the territorial sea, which was updated by decree No. 317 of 29 October 2014 on Kuwait's marine areas as per Article 15 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It indicated that Fisht Al-Eij is an area of land formed naturally above the surface of water in the low-lying islands which are located in Kuwait's territorial waters, thus the construction of the platform was a solely Kuwaiti sovereign decision and part of Kuwait's practicing of its sovereignty over its territorial land and sea.
It stated that the platform was established and installed in Fisht Al-Eij to ensure safety of maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah estuary and to provide support to the Shuwaikh Port Tower in light of the expected increase in the number of private vessels due to the absence of visible means to monitor and follow-up ships movement in Khor Abdullah.
Furthermore, it requires a command site to coordinate security of navigation movement and deal with environmental accidents there.
In the letter, Kuwait highlighted certain security considerations: the need for a modern and sophisticated system to monitor the area of Khor Abdullah and a security presence to counter repeated infiltration of unidentified vessels into Kuwaiti territorial waters, a Kuwaiti responsibility to protect its maritime borders.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, only obligates Kuwait to notify Iraq and it has done that, affirmed the letter. It explained that Kuwait informed the Iraqi side, before it builds the platform in September 2018. Kuwait notified Iraq about the platform in the sixth meeting of the Kuwaiti-Iraqi committee, responsible for organizing maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah, which was held on 26 January, 2017 and notified it again in a memo addressed to the Iraqi embassy in Kuwait on 28 February 2017, the letter disclosed.
The letter affirmed that Kuwait did not violate paragraph 3/A of the joint plan to ensure the safety of navigation in Khor Abdullah as this paragraph only identify communications means between the two sides, thus has nothing to do with the construction of the platform.
It stated that Kuwait has responded to the memorandums of the Iraqi side dated 9 May, 2017 and 12 September, 2018, in which Iraq asked Kuwait to wait until the demarcation of maritime borders beyond the border mark No. 162, in two memos sent from the embassy of Kuwait in Baghdad to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on 26 July 2017 and 26 September 2018. In these memos, Kuwait apprised Iraq of its plan to set up a platform in Fisht Al-Eij, and reiterated its stance that Kuwait alone has the right to decide on such an issue based on its sovereignty over its territorial land and sea.
As for the demarcation of the maritime borders in this area, Kuwait has demanded Iraq, since 2005, in minutes of all joint higher ministerial committees to begin negotiations on the demarcation of the maritime borders beyond mark 162, which was established by the UN Security Council resolution 833 of 1993.
Kuwait also renewed its call in this regard during the seventh session of the joint ministerial committee held in Kuwait in May 2019.
The letter stated that Kuwait takes into account its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and that works in its territorial waters are in line with its obligations under that this convention.
In this letter, Kuwait stated that it would like to pay attention to issues as important as the above mentioned. Construction works currently underway in the Iraqi port of Al-Faw have reached advanced stages, nevertheless Iraq did not consult with Kuwait despite the obligations imposed by Article 206 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, particularly those focusing on the assessment of impacts on the marine environment due to the construction of Al-Faw port and its breakwater, which was established 5.4 nautical miles off the Iraqi coast into Khor Abdullah waters and less than 1.5 nautical miles from the navigation channel.
The letter pointed to the geomorphological impacts seabed of Khor Abdullah and its navigation channel. It stated that the Kuwaiti side must have been informed about those effects as per Article 205 of the same convention. The Iraqi side has not submitted any studies related to the environmental impacts of the establishment of Al-Faw port despite repeated requests from the Kuwaiti side in this regard.
The letter stated that because of the Iraqi side's failure to provide the Kuwaiti side with the study on the environmental impacts or to discuss with the construction of the Al-Faw breakwater as per the provisions of articles 123, 205 and 206 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Kuwait submitted a memo to the UN secretary-general on 23 May, 2018, regretting Iraq's failure to cooperate with it in this regard and warning against the negative repercussions of such a stance on that area.
Kuwait also urged the UN to press the Iraqi side to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of  the Sea and to provide Kuwait with a study on environmental impacts of the project and to consult with it in this regard.
   According to article 192 and article 194 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Iraq must take the necessary measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution in this area, it emphasized.
   In response to the Iraqi request to wait until reaching an understanding on the demarcation of the maritime borders beyond mark 162, Kuwait attached with this letter a list of the minutes of the joint meetings, in which Iraqi voiced commitment to start negotiations on demarcating this area but in vain.
   The letter pointed out that Kuwait sent invitations and letters urging the Iraqi side to start negotiations to demarcate the maritime border beyond border mark No. 162, but the Iraqi side did not respond to all those calls.
   On this occasion, Kuwait calls once again on the Iraqi side to resolve this issue by starting negotiations on the demarcation of maritime borders after mark No. 162 or by resorting to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (end)