Wednesday, 27 January, 2016

Defense chief: US sailors made navigational error in Iran

How crisis was averted: Iran freed US sailors, with only their pride hurt, amid intense diplomacy
Dana Christensen | 22 January, 2016, 14:29

When confronted with pointed questions about the videos of the sailors in custody, administration officials said they would await a review by the Defense Department and would "adjust" their early assessments if any violations are found. For now, however, the administration points to the smooth resolution as the fruit of a policy that promotes diplomacy rather than force when dealing with Iran. "As you can imagine, we're doing a thorough review and as that review is completed, we'll determine the next course of action that's needed".

The sailors, nine men and one woman, were held overnight on Iran's Farsi Islandand released Wednesday.

The sailor is not identified by name in the clip but the TV interviewer says he is the "commander" of the group seized by the Iranians.

The U.S. Navy has initial statements from the sailors but is now conducting a full debrief, so additional information may come to light, the official said.

The sailors will receive support to reintegrate with their unit, said Commander Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet. "And that's something we're going to be looking at".

Trump apparently hadn't been informed that the White House had already secured the sailors' release-without destroying the agreement to constrain Iran's nuclear program or setting back years of careful diplomacy. They left with their weapons and radios when they departed Farsi Island aboard their riverine command boats, 49-foot-long assault craft that are the flagships of the brown water Navy, which Iranian officials searched for advanced technology and sensitive communications.

In an attempt to flip the script following the release of the sailors, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told Fox Business Network that the incident was actually an example of Iran's contempt for Obama.

The quick moves by the Revolutionary Guard also suggested that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sought to keep the detention from overshadowing regional affairs, including the nuclear deal.

"I'm not trying to say that that was authenticated, that we stood - you know, behind that actual piece of video in any way, shape or form ... we're still assessing whether these videos are authentic or not", said Mark Toner.

There is now an investigation as to how the sailors entered Iranian waters, although they claim that one of their two vessels broke down while training in the Gulf.

"The Americans have undertaken not to repeat such mistakes", it added.

Iranian government-controlled television was playing video Wednesday of one of the sailors apologizing for entering Iranian territorial waters.

"Nothing to apologise for", Kirby wrote in a tweet. It is unclear under what circumstances the apology was made.

The sailors left the island at 0843 GMT (3:43 a.m. EST) Wednesday aboard their boats, the Navy said. "They were released in global waters after they apologised".

Iranian speedboat troops based on the small island took the crew prisoner at gunpoint.

The incident raised tensions between Iran and the United States, which, along with other world powers, reached the deal under which Iran will curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Last month, the U.S. Navy said an IRGC vessel fired unguided rockets near the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Strait of Hormuz, a critical shipping route for crude oil that connects the Gulf to the Indian Ocean. "So, we need to let the investigators in the Navy do the inquiry and figure out what happened here".

New views a 2016 NASCAR theme
The clock will be reset to 20:00 when the race begins, and again count down to 00:00 - barring another "natural" caution. It's allowed the teams to make some last minute adjustments early in the race.