The UN Security Council has intervened in the row between the UK and Iran over the detention of 15 British navy personnel, calling for them to be released. The statement increases pressure on Iran, but it came only after lengthy debate and the final draft was much watered-down from the original British version.
The UK’s UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said: “It’s been a long discussion. Colleagues had a number of concerns they have been dealt with and we have come to a conclusion which all of us accepted. I hope now that this will be the right message to send to the government that firstly we get immediate consular access which is what Britain is asking for and that secondly we get prompt release. “
Tehran has released a second letter, supposedly written by the lone servicewoman in the group. In it Faye Turney, asks: “Isn’t it time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq?”
It has heightened already soaring tensions. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “People understand that this is a very clear situation. What I am trying to get across to the Iranian government is that there is no alternative but to release them and the longer it goes on, the more the pressure will be stepped up.”
The sailors and marines were arrested by Iranian forces after allegedly entering Iranian waters while on patrol in the Persian Gulf. Iranian officials say they have proof the Britons were in its waters. Britain has produced similar evidence that they were on the Iraqi side.