Issue of 10 U.S. sailors taken into custody by Iran 'being resolved': official

WASHINGTON - The detention of 10 U.S. Navy sailors taken into custody by Tehran after their two boats drifted into Iranian waters "is being resolved," a leading Iranian official said, indicating they could be set free as early as Wednesday.

See Full Article

"Investigation shows that entry of American sailors into Iran's territorial waters was due to mechanical problems in their navigation system," Gen. Ali Fadavi, Navy chief of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, was quoted as saying on Iran's state TV.

U.S. officials had said on Tuesday that Tehran assured them the crew and vessels would be returned safely and promptly.

Earlier Wednesday, Fadavi said the American boats had shown "unprofessional acts" for 40 minutes before being picked up by Iranian forces after entering the country's territorial waters.

The U.S. detainees included nine men and one woman, who were being held overnight at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. They were expected to be transferred Wednesday to a U.S. ship in the region.

"US naval force and their frigate showed an unprofessional behaviour and had air and naval moves for 40 minutes in the area," Fadavi said at one point. He said Tehran did not consider the U.S. Navy boats violating Iranian territorial waters as "innocent passage."

"Certainly US presence in Persian Gulf and their passage has never been innocent and we do not deem their passage as innocent," he said.

Fadavi said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif "had a firm stance" during a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "on their presence in our territorial waters and said they should not have come and should apologize."

"This process is underway now and will not last long. The Guard naval force will carry out orders of top commanders regarding this case as soon as we receive them," he said

Gen. Ramezan Sharif, spokesman for the Guard, said the U.S. military personnel were to be debriefed.

"If it is determined, after the investigation is carried out, that their action was not intentional, another approach will be taken," he said. "But If it's determined, after they are debriefed and interviewed, that their entry (into Iran's territorial waters) was for intelligence gathering or irrelevant action, definitely the authorities will take the necessary measures."

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Associated Press late Tuesday U.S. time that the Riverine boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them.

U.S. officials said that the incident happened near Farsi Island in the middle of the Gulf. They said some type of mechanical trouble with one of the boats caused them to drift into Iranian territorial waters near the island, and they were picked up by Iran.

"We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly," Cook said late Tuesday, U.S. time.

The incident came amid heightened tensions with Iran, and only hours before President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address to Congress and the public. It set off a dramatic series of calls and meetings as U.S. officials tried to determine the exact status of the crew and reach out to Iranian leaders.

Kerry, who forged a personal relationship with Zarif through three years of nuclear negotiations, called his Iranian counterpart immediately on learning of the incident, according to a senior U.S. official. Kerry "personally engaged with Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome," the official said.

Kerry learned of the incident around 12:30 p.m. EST as he and Defence Secretary Ash Carter were meeting their Filipino counterparts at the State Department, the official said.

Officials said the sailors were part of Riverine Squadron 1 based in San Diego and were deployed to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain. When the U.S. lost contact with the boats, ships attached to the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier strike group began searching the area, along with aircraft flying off the Truman.

Officials said a radio signal from one of the boats showed that they were on Farsi Island, setting off efforts to contact the Iranians. The Riverine boats were not part of the carrier strike group, and were on a training mission as they travelled between Kuwait and Bahrain, officials said.

The Riverine boats are not considered high-tech and don't contain any sensitive equipment, so there were no concerns about the Iranians gaining access to the crafts.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the sensitive incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The incident came on the heels of an incident in late December when Iran launched a rocket test near U.S. warships and boats passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Meanwhile, Iran was expected to satisfy the terms of last summer's nuclear deal in just days. Once the UN nuclear agency confirms Iran's actions to roll back its program, the United States and other Western powers are obliged to suspend wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions on Tehran. Kerry recently said the deal's implementation was "days away."

-----

Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Lolita C. Baldor, Bradley Klapper and Richard Lardner in Washington and Nasser Karimi and Ali Akbar in Tehran contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Three suspects arrested in U.K. acid attack on 3-year-old boy

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - British police have arrested three more suspects in connection with an apparent acid attack on a 3-year-old boy who suffered severe burns. West Mercia Police said Monday that three men, ages 22, 25 and 26, are being questioned in London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm. Source
  • 'A lot more vigorous': Paralyzed Humboldt Bronco in Calgary to work with new physio

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki is drenched in sweat after a workout that more closely resembled military boot camp than physiotherapy. The 19-year-old's two-hour routine at Synaptic: Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary included chin ups, boxing, heavy rope training and pulling himself into a full standing position from his wheelchair just with the use of his arms. Source
  • Heat wave hits Japan and South Korea

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - The temperature in a city north of Tokyo reached 41.1 degrees Celsius on Monday, the highest ever recorded in Japan, as a deadly heat wave gripped a wide swath of the country and nearby South Korea. Source
  • Japan records highest temperature ever as heat wave grips region

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - Japan recorded its highest temperature ever Monday as a deadly heat wave continued to grip a wide swath of the country and nearby South and North Korea. The mercury hit 41.1 degrees Celsius in Kumagaya, a city in Saitama prefecture that is about 65 kilometres northwest of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Source
  • Ambivalence over amnesty proposal to end gang violence in Mexico

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - Lucia Diaz and other volunteers have found more than 300 bodies in clandestine graves along Mexico's Gulf coast, and she embodies the trepidation, hope and fear with which Mexicans regard the proposal by President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to grant amnesty to calm gang-fuelled violence. Source
  • U.S. Secretary of State calls Iran religious leaders 'hypocritical holy men'

    World News CTV News
    SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday called the religious leaders of Iran "hypocritical holy men" who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer, part of a highly critical broadside issued as the republic approached the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution and the U.S. Source
  • Trump takes to Twitter to threaten Iran

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani early Monday that he will face dire consequences for threatening the United States. Trump tweeted about the dangers to Iran of making hostile threats after Rouhani said Sunday "American must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars. Source
  • Multiple people injured after shots fired on busy Toronto street

    Canada News CTV News
    There are reports of multiple injuries after shots rang out in a busy Toronto neighbourhood Sunday night. Police, paramedics and firefighters have converged on the scene in the area of Danforth and Logan avenues, in Toronto’s east end. Source
  • Nine people shot, shooter dead after gunfire in Toronto: police

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto police say nine people have been shot, including a young girl, and the shooter is dead after gunfire rang out in a busy Toronto neighbourhood. The victims were taken to city hospitals, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. Source
  • One victim and suspect dead, 13 injured in Toronto shooting: police

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto police say 14 people have been shot, one of them fatally, and the gunman is dead after gunfire rang out along a busy Toronto street on Sunday night. Among the injured is a young girl who was in critical condition, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters at the scene. Source