Monday, June 21, 2004

Iranians Grab British Patrol boats

Three British Patrol Boats with 8 crewman on board have been seized by the Iranians.

Apparently these boats regularly patrol the Iraq/Iran maritime border in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway.

Iran’s state-run, Arabic language Al-Alam television station reported that the three British ships entered Iranian territorial waters not far from the Iran-Iraq border.

“Iranian forces confiscated the ships and eight military personnel on board,” the report said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hamid Reza Asefi, confirmed the report, according to Iran’s main Persian-language TV channel.

“Interrogation of those detained will continue until the matter is clarified,” Asefi was quoted as saying.

The Iranian TV report said British crewmembers were carrying maps and weapons. It also said the ships were seized about 11 a.m. between the Bahmanshir and Arvand rivers, which would put them in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway east of the Iraqi city of Faw.

The ministry said there were no British warships operating in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway but some smaller vessels were there.

“We are assisting the Iraqi water police there so it may be one of those vessels,” a spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

The Foreign Office said British diplomats in Tehran had been in contact with the Iranian government but it was still unclear what had happened.

From the Toronto Star

It certainly looks like Iran is trying to act tough in the face of continuing evidence that its "peaceful" nuclear program is being used for weapons development. Additionally if this seizure causes problems and prevents Britisah patrolling of the waterway, thereby enhancing the chances of Iran to smuggle weapons and people into Iraq, I'm sure the Iranians won't mind that either.

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