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Iran Delays Sailor Release – For Bad Behavior

From a shocked New York Times:

Iran May Delay Captured British Sailor’s Release

By ALAN COWELL

LONDON, March 29 — Iran today withdrew plans to free one of the 15 British sailors and marines it had seized on March 23, the only woman detained, insisting that Britain admit fault before she is released.

Iran also leveled new accusation against Britain, alleging that the seized military personnel had intruded on Iranian waters several times before they were detained.

Britain, for its part, said it would seek United Nations backing against Iran in the dispute, despite the delayed release of Ms. Turney, a 26-year-old mother of one.

The Iranian Mehr news agency quoted a military commander, Alireza Afshar, as saying the release of Ms. Turney, had been suspended because of the “wrong behavior” of the British government. Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, attending a meeting in Saudi Arabia, has insisted that Britain must admit fault in the dispute to end the standoff, the Associated Press reported.

The escalating dispute turns on rival claims about where the British sailors and marines were when they were seized. Iran says they were more than 500 yards inside its territorial waters, but Britain produced satellite navigation coordinates Wednesday to support its contention that the sailors were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters on patrols approved by the United Nations and the Iraqi government.

The IRNA news agency quoted an Iranian naval official today saying that the Britons, in two inflatable, high-speed patrol boats from the H.M.S. Cornwall frigate, had entered Iranian waters several times before they were seized. The Iranian official was quoted as saying Iran had film, taken by the Iranian coastguard, of the alleged intrusions.

The Royal Navy has said the sailors were “ambushed” as they completed an inspection of an Indian-flagged merchant ship in Iraqi waters.

IRNA also quoted from a letter sent by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the British Embassy in Tehran demanding British guarantees not to intrude into Iranian waters in the future.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran severely protests against the violation of its territorial waters in the Persian Gulf and, while underlining the importance of international laws and respect for the sovereignty of nations, cautions the London government of the consequences of such violations,” the letter was quoted as saying.

Initially, Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council had indicated the captive might still be freed if Britain retreated from its intention to seek United Nations backing. He said that “if we are faced with a fuss and wrong behavior” Seaman Turney’s release “would be suspended and it would not take place.” …

Is anyone outside of the New York Times surprised that the Iranians want to milk this for as long as possible?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, March 29th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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