Saturday, March 31, 2007
An Excuse For War?
Ahmadinejad rips U.K. for not following ‘legal, logical way’ to resolve issue
• Bush demands release of British Marines
March 31: President Bush joined America's strongest ally today in demanding the release of 15 British Marines and sailors held in Iran. NBC’s John Yang reports from the White House.
• Iran’s perilous path in pictures
A click-through history of modern Iran and its love-hate relationship with the United States
• Iran's nuclear network
An interactive look at Iran’s nuclear facilities
• Unseen Iran
27 years after the revolution, conservatives rule Iran. But Western culture still seeps in. Click to see images.
TEHRAN, Iran - President Bush said Saturday that Iran's detention of 15 British sailors was "inexcusable" and that Tehran must release them immediately.
"The British hostage issue is serious because the Iranians took these people out of Iraqi water. It's inexcusable behavior. I strongly support the Blair government's attempts to resolve this peacefully," he said, referring to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Meanwhile, Iran’s president said on Saturday the British government was not following “the legal and logical way” of resolving the dispute over the British naval personnel detained last week, state radio said.
“After the arrest of these people, the British government, instead of apologizing and expressing regret, over the action taken, started to claim that we are in their debt and shouted in different international councils,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the state radio report. “But this is not the legal and logical way for this issue.”
Earlier, Britain said it was concerned at Iranian “saber-rattling” about possibly putting captured British naval personnel on trial and for the first time voiced regret the incident had occurred.
Iran’s ambassador to Moscow said the 15 Britons captured eight days ago could face punishment if found guilty of illegally entering the Islamic Republic’s territorial waters.
Britain insists the sailors were seized in Iraqi waters and Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said she was worried by such talk.
“Obviously, I am concerned. It is not the first person to have made saber-rattling noises,” she told reporters after a European Union foreign ministers’ meeting in Germany.
“The message I want to send is I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen. What we want is a way out of it.”
Iran seized the sailors and marines in the northern Gulf on March 23 when they were on a U.N.-backed mission searching for smugglers. Tehran says they strayed into Iranian waters but Britain insists they were well in Iraqi territory.
The crisis, at a time of heightened Middle East tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, has helped push oil prices to six-month highs over concerns an escalation might cut oil exports from the region.
There were more confusing signals about Iran’s intentions.
Iran’s Moscow ambassador, Gholamreza Ansari, said in an interview broadcast by Vesti-24 television on Friday, according to a Reuters translation from the original Farsi: “If there is no guilt they will be freed but the legal process is going on and has to be completed and if they are found guilty they will face the punishment.”
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday that Iran was considering charging the sailors with illegally entering its waters.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry delivered a letter to Britain’s embassy in Tehran on Thursday, the first written communication between the two capitals since the crisis began.
The IRNA news agency said the Iranian message asked for “necessary guarantees that violations against Iranian waters would not be repeated.”
Beckett said: “We have made our response and we are now beginning to discuss. As you may know it’s a holiday period in Iran and it’s perhaps not too helpful.”
The Iranian government is largely shut down for the two-week Nowruz holiday, a pre-Islamic Persian new year, which began on March 21 and ends next Tuesday.
‘Corruption nest of the British old devil’
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was mandated on Friday by the 27-nation bloc’s foreign ministers to seek the Britons’ immediate release. He said he had not yet been able to speak to Iranian leaders but his staff had made first contacts.
Student members of the Basij religious militia from across Iran issued a statement on Saturday demanding the British embassy in Tehran be closed down, calling it the “corruption nest of the British old devil,” IRNA said.
They also invited students to protest outside the embassy on Sunday “to protest the violation of Iranian waters by British soldiers and the Security Council’s latest statement,” the student news agency ISNA said.
Iran displayed three of the detained Britons on television on Friday and released a letter from one saying she was being held because of “oppressive” British and U.S. behavior in Iraq.
British forces have been deployed in southern Iraq since joining the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003. Britain and the United States accuse Iran of allowing sophisticated weapons used to target their forces to be brought into Iraq.
Um-hmmm, Mr. President. And what would OUR government do if Islamic military or insurgents were caught in OUR international waters in military-type ships?
What did the Russkies do when they shot down our spy plane with pilot Gary Powers over Russian territory? And what tired old excuse did we give about our spy plane? It "strayed". It was an innocent, civilian weather research aircraft on weather reconnaisance flight, the oxygen must have malfunctioned causing the pilot to lose consciousness and the autopilot accidentally carried the plane over Russian waters. Yeah, right! The Russkies didn't buy that either, especially when it was determined that Powers was NOT a weather research man.
For younger readers who may not know about Gary Powers and the U2 spy plane:
--"A high-altitude surveillance aircraft which first flew in 1955 and figured prominently in the Cold War. It is still invaluable to military commanders. The U-2 was developed as a CIA project to photograph Soviet military facilities. To do so, U-2s were based in great secrecy at Adana in Turkey - later renamed the Incirlik airbase - and operated out of Pakistan. That was until 1960, when a U-2 was shot down by a volley of Soviet surface-to-air missiles. The pilot, Gary Powers, ejected but was captured and held for two years on spying charges."
Ofcourse the US and British governments would never lie, and we know that our president is the soul of veracity.
And insofar as accusations of Iran "saber-rattling", isn't that a case of the kettle calling the pot black? The US has been rattling the attack-Iran saber for a long time. Does Bush and Blair imagine that the Iranis and the world is ignorant of the fact that they - in collaboration with Israel - have had the attack-Iran plot on the table for several years, just as they did with Iraq?
Just another excuse for another illegal war.