Iranian naval vessels on Friday seized 15 British sailors and marines who had boarded a merchant ship in Iraqi waters of the Persian Gulf, British and U.S. officials said. Britain immediately protested the detentions, which come at a time of high tension between the West and Iran.
Britain's Defense Ministry said the British Navy personnel were "engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters," and had completed a ship inspection when they were accosted by the Iranian vessels. The British sailors were assigned to a task force which protects Iraqi oil terminals and maintains security in Iraqi waters under authority of the
U.N. Security Council.
In London, the British government summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Foreign Office: "He was left in no doubt that we want them back," Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said after the meeting.
No one could be immediately reached for comment at either government offices in Iran or at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad. An Iranian official at the U.N. mission in New York said he was not aware of the report and could not immediately comment.
Iran is in the middle of its New Year holiday when almost all government offices close.
Well, I think you better WAKE SOMEONE UP or break up there party over this one; don't you think?
Personally, I would arrest Abbadabbadoodoo who is in NY right now.
U.S. officials had expressed concern that with so much military hardware concentrated in the Persian Gulf, just such a small incident could spiral out of control and trigger a major armed confrontation.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said the Bush administration was monitoring the situation.
"The British government is demanding the immediate safe return of the people and equipment and we are keeping watch on the situation," Snow said.
Earlier this week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said if Western countries "want to treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack."
This clown actually runs the country. In contrast our President said...
In February, President Bush said: "The Iranian people are good, honest, decent people and they've got a government that is belligerent, loud, noisy, threatening — a government which is in defiance of the rest of the world and says, 'We want a nuclear weapon.'"
In other words their government behaves like petulent children because it is immature.
According to a statement from the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain and operates jointly with the British forces off the coast of Iraq, the British sailors had just finished inspecting the merchant ship about 10:30 a.m. "when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters."
Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl of the Fifth Fleet said the British crew members were intercepted by several larger patrol boats operated by Iranian sailors belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, a radical force that operates separately from the country's regular navy.
The Iranian boats normally carry bow-mounted machine guns, while the British boarding party carried only sidearms, Aandahl said. No shots were fired and there appeared to be no physical harm done to any personnel involved or their vessels, Aandahl said.
The seizure of the British vessels, a pair of rigid inflatable boats known as RIBs, took place in long-disputed waters just outside of the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that divides Iraq from Iran, Aandahl said. A 1975 treaty gave the waters to Iraq and U.S. and British ships commonly operate there, but Aandahl said Iran disputes Iraq's jurisdiction over the waters.
Iran really thinks it can play with the big boys, doesn't it?
This is the action of a rogue nation, not one that wishes to be part of the civilized world. there are some of you out there that want to trust them with nuclear technology? They cannot even behave with conventional weapons! Not only was this arrogant, it was incredibly STUPID! With the Security council discussing sanction on Iran and their President here to speak to the U.N. you do something like this? We shouldn't be surprised, their President is a whack job hostage taker from way back.
I tell you what, I want to know what was on that Merchant Ship. I also think their President should be arrested until their people and property are returned. Why, because in my opinion, this was an act of war.