United Nations (AFP) March 29, 2007
Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates of two British boats seized with 15 sailors were changed by Iran to make it appear they were in Iranian waters, Britain's UN envoy said Thursday.
"It was only when we point out that the detention (of the 15 British sailors and marines) was inappropriate and in our view unlawful that the coordinates were then changed by the Iranian government to be coordinates within Iranian waters," British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said.
He told reporters that he would be pressing the UN Security Council to adopt later in the day a "press statement which will make clear the support of the council for the release of the people who in the view of British government have been wrongfully detained."
He expressed the hope that the 15 Britons, including a woman sailor, would be released "immediately."
"Our position has been consistent for six days. We want these guys all released immediately. We think the detention was inappropriate and I hope I can get the Security Council to rally to that simple proposition," the British envoy said.
The proposed British-drafted statement would have the Security Council "deplore the continuing detention by the Government of Iran of 15 UK naval personnel" and back "calls for (their) immediate release".
It would note that "the UK personnel were operating in Iraqi waters as part of the multinational Force-Iraq under a mandate from the Security Council under resolution 1723 (2006) and at the request of the government of Iraq."
The 15 Britons were captured on Friday in the northern Gulf in what Iran insists were its territorial waters but Britain says they were picked up while on a routine patrol in Iraqi waters.
On Thursday, Iran said the 15 British sailors had entered its waters at six different points before they were arrested, according to the official IRNA news agency reported.
"These 15 British troops in two boats... had entered and stayed in Iran's territorial waters at six points before they were arrested by the patrols," IRNA quoted an unnamed navy official as saying.
"The coast guards have documented and filmed British forces violating international law," the Iranian official said. "Their entry and stay in our waters is certain according to the information recorded on the British sailors' GPS."
Later on Thursday an Iranian army commander appeared on state TV using maritime charts and a GPS "seized from the British sailors".
"The information recorded on the GPS shows the sailors were arrested in Iranian waters and that they had entered six times," said General Setareh, commander of coastal border patrols in Arvand -- Iranian name for the Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq where the sailors were arrested.
And Iran demanded an apology from London over the incident.
"The logical solution to resolving this affair is for the British authorities to accept the reality, present their apologies to the great Iranian people," General Alireza Afshar, spokesman for the head of Iran's armed forces, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency. He said Britain also needed to "admit the truth and make a commitment not to violate our waters again."
earlier related report
The declaration by the head of Iran's supreme national security council Ali Larijani came a day after London said it was freezing ties with Tehran over the crisis.
"It was announced that a woman in the group would be freed, but (this development) was met with an incorrect attitude. Naturally, (the release) will be suspended and it will not take place," he said on state television.
Iran had said on Wednesday that Faye Turney, the only woman among the 15 sailors captured in the northern Gulf on Friday, would be released within a day or two.
In London, the Foreign Office said "We continue to press for their release."
Larijani, who is Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, also threatened to pursue a "legal path" in the case, which has caused jitters around the world and through oil markets, where prices topped 66 dollars a barrel on Thursday.
"Instead of sending a technical team to examine the problem, they kicked up a media storm, announced a freeze in relations and spoke about the Security Council. That will not resolve the problem. They have miscalcuated," he said.
Iran says the sailors were in its territorial waters in the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq while Britain has presented documents to show they were picked up in Iraqi waters.
"It is not the Stone Age, electronic equipment and GPS clearly show their path and the fact that they were in our waters," Larijani said.
"The issue has to be pursued legally and it should be examined why the detainees violated our sovereignty."
"They cannot commit a violation and force that country to go back on its law by exploiting the media and international institutions," he said. "If this is what they choose, the issue will be pursued on a legal path instead of bilateral talks." A naval official also said the sailors had entered Iranian waters at six different points before they were arrested, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"These 15 British troops in two boats... had entered and stayed in Iran's territorial waters at six points before they were arrested by the patrols," the official said.
"The coast guards have documented and filmed British forces violating international law," the official said. "Their entry and stay in our waters is certain according to the information recorded on the British sailors' GPS."
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleA New Era Of Nuclear Fear May Loom In Shadown Of Missile Shield
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Mar 30, 2007
Media reports from the last few weeks increasingly resemble Hollywood horror movies. The United States is reportedly developing a new-generation hydrogen warhead for its Trident II, (D-5) strategic submarines. The Pentagon plans to deploy elements of its National Missile Defense System, namely, an early-warning radar and ground-based interceptor, or GBI, launchers, in the Czech Republic and Poland.
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