Friday, March 30, 2007

Iranian Diplomat Says Detained U.K. Sailors Face Punishment

Here's more on the UK/Iran situation from Russia's RIA Novosti:
MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's Ambassador to Russia reiterated earlier official statements Friday that the British seamen detained allegedly for straying into Iranian territorial waters could face punishment.

"The legal process has been launched, and if their guilt is proved, they will face punishment," Gholam Reza Ansari said in an interview with Russia's satellite channel Vesti 24.

Iran detained 15 British seamen in the Gulf last Friday for violating its maritime border with Iraq. Britain has insisted the servicemen were in Iraqi waters under a UN mandate, and were returning in dinghies to the HMS Cornwall after patrolling oil platforms.
Today they were patrolling oil platforms. Yesterday they were interdicting car-smugglers. By tomorrow they will have been intercepting terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, I suppose. Because you'll believe anything!
Ansari said the problem could have been resolved if the U.K. acknowledged the border violation and offered an apology.

"If the government of Britain had offered an apology to Iran for the mistake, the issue could have been resolved immediately," the diplomat said.
It would have been so easy ... but they didn't, of course. Instead they went in the opposite direction:
London froze official bilateral contacts, suspended the issuance of visas to Iranian officials and referred the situation to the UN Security Council Wednesday. The UN expressed "grave concern" over the sailors' capture.
In a separate report, Iran says it wants nothing to do with third-party negotiations.
Iranian authorities said Tehran would ignore the Security Council's statement.

"This incident should be resolved bilaterally. Attempts by the British government to attract a third side, including the UN Security Council, will lead to nothing," the Iranian leadership said in a statement.
The situation does not look promising, but I will try to keep you posted.