The United States military has confirmed that Iran released 10 American Navy sailors Wednesday.
The sailors were detained Tuesday after their two small boats entered Iranian territorial waters.
In a statement, the Defense Department said there was no report that any of the nine men or one woman were harmed while they were held.
The sailors were on two small boats in the Persian Gulf between Kuwait and Bahrain when American forces lost contact with them on Tuesday. American officials said the sailors were detained near Farsi Island, which holds a large Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval base.
Matthew Kroenig is a senior fellow at The Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. He says the naval base may be the reason the sailors were so quickly detained. He told VOA “most countries would do the same thing if foreign sailors came that close to a naval base.”
Earlier, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said the sailors had been released after the United States apologized for the entry into its waters and promised it would not happen again.
General Ali Fadavi is the Navy chief of the Revolutionary Guard. Iranian state television reported he said a problem with the ships’ navigational system caused them to enter Iranian waters.
But the New York Times newspaper reported that the Defense Department and the State Department said one of the boats had suffered mechanical problems as it sailed to Bahrain from Kuwait “on a routine mission.” The newspaper reported that Iran “appeared to have accepted that explanation.”
The New York Times spoke with a well-known Iranian expert about the incident. Hamidreza Taraghi is close to the country’s senior leaders. He told the newspaper that the quick release of the sailors showed how much Iran’s relations with the West had changed since a nuclear agreement between Iran and Western powers was signed.
President Barack Obama did not talk about the incident during his yearly State of the Union speech Tuesday night. But he said the nuclear agreement helped the world avoid another war. The agreement is expected to be put into place in the next few days.
I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.
This report was based on information from VOANews.com. Additional information came from the New York Times. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
navigational – adj. (always used before a noun) guiding the moving of a ship over an area of water
routine – adj. done or happening as a normal part of a job, situation or process; ordinary
mission - n. a job that someone is given to do; a project