Sen. Tom Cotton, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, says the Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran did this to heap the maximum amount of humiliation on President Obama during his State of the Union address. Says he and other Republicans have warned the president of this.
Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are holding them in custody on Iran’s Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.
The officials said it’s unclear whether the 10 American sailors aboard two small riverine vessels had strayed into Iranian territorial waters before they were captured.
The sailors were on a training mission around noon ET when their boat experienced mechanical difficulty and drifted into Iranian-claimed waters and were detained by the Iranian Coast Guard, officials added. The crew was described as being safe.
Following reports of the incident, Secretary of State John Kerry got on the phone with Iranian officials in Tehran attempting to gain the sailors’ release.
One senior official told NBC News the Iranians understand it was a mistake and have agreed to release the Americans in international waters within hours.
The Persian Gulf has been a flash point in the Middle East, and the incident comes on the same day President Barack Obama is set to give his annual State of the Union address.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Associated Press that the boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when U.S. officials lost contact with them. Farsi Island sits in the Persian Gulf in between the Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,” Cook said.
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC News military analyst, said the seizure of American boats is “very bad news” and highlights how the Navy may have failed to have surveillance on their boats.
“We simply can’t allow ground, air or naval units to be seized by a foreign hostile power,” McCaffrey said on MSNBC. “I hope they’re back real quickly. This is an affront to our military presence in the Gulf and will unsettle our allies in the region.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said on MSNBC that the pending release of the sailors shows how diplomacy between U.S. and Iranian officials “is working.”
“Hopefully this will be resolved, and it won’t be an issue that we’re talking about in a couple of hours,” she said.
SOURCE: NBC News