Britain protested to Iran over “forcibly escorting” Royal Navy servicemen into Iranian waters before arresting them for trespassing. British parliament’s expert on Iranian affairs Lord Temple-Morris tells Radio Farda that Iran is driving Britain into the arms of America. “The leader of the house of commons has described the behavior of Iranians as intolerable and registered a strong protest,” to Iran for detaining eight Royal Navy marines and sailors for three days, after forcing them to enter Iranian waters, British parliament’s expert on Iranian affairs and member of the House of Lords’ foreign relations committee Lord Peter Temple-Morris tells Radio Farda's broadcaster Fariba Mavedat.
Iran said the six marines and two sailors had trespassed into Iranian territory in the Shatt al Arab waterway. But in a letter to the parliament, a copy of which was officially delivered to Iran, Britain’s defense minister said the British servicemen were “forcibly escorted” into Iran’s waters by their abductors. A spokesman of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ navy said the advanced weapons, communications and positioning equipment found on the sailors indicated that their were not ordinary sailors.
The quick release of the British detainees by Iran appeared to have brought the diplomatic crisis to an end, but relations between Britain and Iran sank to an unexpected new low, after Britain released statements by the abducted marines.
“British government is protesting to Iranians about the whole thing and will no doubt continue to do so,” Lord Temple-Morris adds, predicting that the relations between the two countries “are going rapidly from bad to worse, because of the way that Iran has been behaving over the nuclear issue and now over the arrest of British navy sailors,” he says. Britain’s policy of continuing to negotiate with Iran must become more critical and become closer to the US position, he adds.
While he agrees with the Times of London’s editorial that US and EU should form a united and tough stand against Iran, he says he would not support economic sanctions against Iran. British sanctions against Iran “would be very serious for Iran, because it would affect Iran’s trade, its nuclear program and everything.”
“Iranians are denying this; their official position is that they are denying that they intercepted our boats and took them forcibly to Iranian waters,” he adds.
Britain is trying to continue its policy of dialogue and relations with Iran, but Iran has made maintaining the status quo difficult, he adds. “What I want to say is that they (Iranians) are driving us into the arms of America by behaving this way, that is what is happening; that is the practical result of it.”