Iran upped the stakes in their latest bout of brinksmanship today. Teheran announced that the 15 captured British sailors had undergone interrogation, and that at least some of them had "confessed" to violating Iranian waters:
An Iranian military official said on Saturday "confessions" and other evidence showed that British naval personnel who were detained in the Gulf had illegally entered Iranian waters.
Britain says the 15 sailors and marines were seized Friday in Iraqi waters and have demanded their immediate release.
"The investigation, and confessions that we have, shows they have been arrested in Iranian waters," an armed forces commander told state radio, which only gave his last name Afshari. ...
Iranian forces seized the British sailors and marines on Friday in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that marks the southern stretch of Iraq's border with Iran, triggering a diplomatic crisis at a time of heightened tension over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Britain says they were detained in Iraqi waters. Asked about the report the group had been transferred to Tehran, a foreign office spokesman in London said: "We haven't had any confirmation of that."
This mirrors their last abduction, in 2004, when the Iranians paraded the British sailors in front of cameras blindfolded before their eventual "confession" -- and their release. They may be hoping for a similar outcome from this capture as well, making enough claims for domestic consumption before backing down from the potential military consequences of the action.
Will the British and the US take any action for this provocation? If the Iranians do not immediately release the sailors, the US should start taking similar action against Iranian ships entering Iraqi waters, and perhaps event start positoning for a blockade. Given the stressed nature of the Iranian economy, that will certainly get Iran's attention, as well as the notice of its citizens.