Iran Claims British Sailors Confessed to Incursion


The Shatt al-Arab waterway, where the group was intercepted, divides Iran from Iraq and is an important water route for valuable oil supplies. The disputed territory and the lands around it were the focus of the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and claimed the lives of more than one million people.

It is not the first boat crisis between Iran and Britain. In a similar incident three years ago, eight British sailors and marines were captured by Iran inside the Shatt al-Arab, and later released. At that time, Iran also claimed that it's territory had been invaded. Britain said it had been inside Iraqi waters, and repeated that position immediately after this latest incident.

"I think there is always a possibility where a situation like this could be exaggerated and taken out of control," said Fitzpatrick. "I don't think it's going to happen this time. I think the Iranians, I hope the Iranians, are wise enough to realize they can not hold on to these sailors and marines for much longer.

"The United Kingdom and the United States are not going to just stand still while their men and women are detained by Iran," he added. "I don't see the United Kingdom standing for that very long. And there are ways in which they could escalate it. And there is no point for Iran to do this."

However, it is currently the middle of an Iranian New Year's holiday period, so it could be days before high-ranking Iranian officials come to grips with this latest explosive incident in the Gulf.

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