The Minister in Persia8 (Hornibrook) to the Secretary of State

No. 193

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a translation of an Act which was introduced in the Majlis on June 24, 1934, and which was approved by that body on July 15, 1934.

The new legislation will be of special interest to the Department because of the claims now being asserted by the Persian Government for sovereignty over the Islands of Bahrein.9

Respectfully yours,

Wm. H. Hornibrook
[Enclosure—Translation ]

Law Delimiting Coastal Waters and Controlling Zone Voted on July 15, 1934

Chapter I. The Limit of Coastal Waters and Controlling Zone

Article 1.—That portion of the sea at a distance of six nautical miles from the lowest ebb-tide and extending parallel therewith all along the coasts is considered Persia’s coastal waters and everything in this zone above and below the surface thereof belongs to Persia. Moreover, to enforce certain laws and agreements relating to security, defense and interests of the country and to naval traffic control another zone known as the naval controlling zone over which the Imperial Government has the right of control extends within a distance of twelve nautical miles from the lowest ebb-tide and parallel with the coast.

(Note: A nautical mile is 1852 meters.)

Article 2.—As to bays (small gulfs) the border of littoral waters starts with a straight line extending from one extremity of the mouth of the bay to the other. Should the mouth of the bay exceed ten nautical miles in width the coastal water line will be located at the nearest place where the bay joins the sea with a width not exceeding ten nautical miles.

In the case of seaports the limit of littoral waters begins with a line located between the foremost fixed port structures in the sea.

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Article 3.—Any island belonging to Persia will have its own littoral waters with borders defined in the manner provided in the first part of Article 1. In the case of an archipelago, the islands forming it will be considered tantamount to one island. Littoral waters of an archipelago will be measured from islands farthest from the center of the archipelago.

Chapter II. Conditions for Entry and Anchorage of Foreign War Vessels in Persian Waters and the Procedure Prescribed Therefor

Article 4.—Foreign war vessels and submarines have the right of harmless passage in Persian littoral waters provided they sail on the surface of the sea unless said vessels belong to belligerent states in which case state regulations and international rules governing war times and respect of neutrality are enforced.

The conditions of passage of war vessels, which form the subject of the first part of this article, will be determined by special regulations with particular reference to number.

Article 5.—The conditions of anchorage of foreign war vessels in Persian littoral waters will also be defined by special regulations. Said vessels must observe Persian laws and regulations in the waters forming the subject of this law.

Article 6.—The Government can forbid the passage and/or anchorage of foreign war vessels at certain seaports or in parts of littoral waters in the interest of the defense of the country or for other important reasons. Said seaports and parts (waters) will be known as prohibited zones.

Article 7.—On condition of reciprocity foreign war vessels are exempt from customs examination. Customs duties will be collected only on merchandise unloaded at the coast for purposes of consumption. On condition of reciprocity said vessels are exempt from tonnage and similar charges.

Article 8.—Persian authorities are not qualified to examine and prosecute misdemeanors and crimes committed on board foreign war vessels. Death sentences handed down by foreign authorities cannot be executed on Persian littoral waters and in the Persian naval controlling zone.


President of the Majlis
  1. Use of the name “Persia” was not discontinued until March 22, 1935.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. ii, pp. 890 ff.