Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Iran holds crews of 2 U.S. boats

The crews of two small U.S. Navy boats were picked up by the Iranian authorities on Tuesday after commanders lost contact with the vessels. Pentagon officials said that Iran had agreed to return the sailors soon.

An official said that the boats appeared to have drifted into Iranian territorial waters after one of them experienced mechanical problems. The boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when contact was lost late in the afternoon, a Defense Department official said.

Secretary of State John Kerry, an official said, called his Iranian counterpart, with whom he spent months negotiating a nuclear accord. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

The semiofficial Fars news agency in Iran said that the boats had illegally traveled more than a mile into Iranian territorial waters near Farsi Island, in the Persian Gulf. It said that forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards navy had confiscated GPS equipment, which would “prove that the American ships where ‘snooping’ around in Iranian waters.”

Ten American sailors – nine men and one woman – were arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps after their boat reportedly strayed into the country’s territorial waters.