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

  • Police in Taber, Alta., treat burning of Pride flag as an arson case

    Canada News CTV News
    TABER, Alta. -- Police in a small southern Alberta town are treating the burning of a rainbow Pride flag as an arson case. Taber Police Chief Graham Abela says someone used fuel to light a flag pole on fire Saturday and the flames spread to the flag. Source
  • 'Before tragedy strikes': Liberals launch centre to prevent home-grown terrorism

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government has launched a new centre tasked with preventing the radicalization of Canadian young people. A special adviser will be named in coming months to oversee the local outreach and research projects funded through the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. Source
  • Cladding manufacturer to stop production of some panels after Grenfell fire

    World News CBC News
    Cladding maker Arconic says it is discontinuing global sales of one type of composite paneling for high-rise buildings in the wake of the devastating fire that killed 79 people at Grenfell Tower. Arconic says in a statement Monday that Reynobond PE would no longer be sold for use in high-rise buildings. Source
  • Canadian woman first to lead Changing of the Guard ceremony

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — A Canadian soldier has made history as the first woman to lead the Changing of the Guard ceremony at London’s Buckingham Palace. Megan Couto led her unit as it changed Queen Elizabeth II’s guards on Monday. Source
  • Donald Trump's travel ban goes into effect as case heads to U.S. Supreme Court

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States is letting a limited version of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries take effect, a victory for Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency. Source
  • Baby Doe killer convicted of 2nd-degree murder

    World News Toronto Sun
    BOSTON — A man was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shores of a Boston Harbor island. Michael McCarthy was charged in the 2015 killing of Bella Bond, his girlfriend’s daughter. Source
  • Man convicted of 2nd-degree murder in killing of Baby Doe

    World News CTV News
    BOSTON -- A man was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shores of a Boston Harbor island. Source
  • Body of what may be missing northern Alberta hunter found on river bank

    Canada News CTV News
    FORT CHIPEWYAN, Alta. -- The body of what is believed to be one of four men who disappeared during a hunting trip in northern Alberta more than two months ago has been located. RCMP in Fort Chipewyan say the body was discovered on the weekend on the bank of the Rocher River, about eight kilometres north of where a boat carrying the hunters was located. Source
  • Jewish leaders angry after plan for mixed-gender prayer area at Western Wall cancelled

    World News CBC News
    A high-profile group of Jewish leaders cancelled a gala event with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to protest his government's decision to scrap plans for a mixed-gender prayer area at Jerusalem's Western Wall. The move reflects an unprecedented gulf that has erupted between Israel and the Jewish diaspora over how Judaism can be practised in Israel. Source
  • Nunavut's suicide strategy includes Facebook, giving communities more control

    Canada News CTV News
    IQALUIT, Nunavut -- Social media plays a central role in a five-year plan aimed at reducing the number of suicides in Nunavut. "Just about everyone up here has a Facebook account," said David Lawson, an RCMP officer who is president of the Embrace Life Council, which helped produce the plan along with the Nunavut government, RCMP and other organizations. Source