Brits were 1.7 miles inside Iraqi waters
Britain today escalated its dispute with Iran over the capture of 15 British naval personnel by revealing charts, photographs and previously secret navigational coordinates purportedly proving that the British sailors were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters when they were seized six days ago.The Iranians have been caught lying again and making things up which is not surprising since this whole episode is an example of Iranian bad faith. It appears they cannot keep their lies straight.
“It is now time to ratchet up international and diplomatic pressure” on Iran to demonstrate its “total isolation,” Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament after the Royal Navy made public details of what it said was the sailors’ position when they were apprehended.
The Royal Navy rejected two sets of coordinates provided by Iran as evidence of Teheran’s claim that the British sailors had strayed into its territorial waters.
The publication of the British data followed a warning by Mr. Blair on Tuesday that the dispute would enter a “different phase” if the sailors were not released.
Iran has not so far permitted British officials to visit the 15 sailors, who include a 26-year-old woman, and has refused to say where they are being held. In parliament on Wednesday the Prime Minister called the seizure of the British personnel “completely unacceptable, wrong and illegal” and renewed calls for their immediate return.
Vice Admiral Charles Style told a news briefing in London that British authorities “unambiguously contest” Iranian assertions that the sailors were in Iranian waters.
Sky News broadcast what it said was a statement from the Iranian Embassy here, saying Iran said it has “sufficient evidence” to prove that the British sailors had penetrated 0.5 kilometers — roughly 500 yards — into Iranian waters.
Vice Admiral Style said the British boarding party, in two inflatable boats, had boarded an Indian-flagged naval vessel on March 23 after observing it unloading cars.
He said the boarding took place at these coordinates: 29 degrees 50.36 North, 04 degrees 43.08 west. That placed it 1.7 nautical miles — almost two miles on land — inside Iraqi waters.
In diplomatic contacts, Iran had provided Britain with an initial set of coordinates for the position of the boats that placed the incident in Iraqi waters.
“We pointed this out to them on Sunday in diplomatic contacts,” Vice Admiral Style said. “After we did this they then provided a second set of coordinates that places the incident in Iranian waters” over two nautical miles away from where they were said to be by Britain, he said.
“It is hard to understand a legitimate reason for this change of coordinates,” he said.
What is really puzzling is how long it took the Brits to post this data. It could be they were trying to get the Iranians to commit to a specific location. If that was the case they should have disclosed the Iranians first coordinates as soon as they knew they were in Iraqi waters. That would have publicly committed them to the their crime.
It is interesting that the inspected craft is now described as an Indian vessel and not an Iranian as reported last night. The Indian captain should also be able to confirm the British coordinates.
This is a BBC graphic showing the location of the kidnapping and the Iranians original statement of position as well as their revised one. The Ministry of Defense graphic in the Telegram is a little larger.