Feeds

MoD: seized personnel were in Iraqi waters

Here's the proof

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Of course, HMS Cornwall could have sunk the Iranian vessels before, during, or after the events alongside the anchored merchantman. The British warship mounts a 4.5-inch gun turret and Harpoon ship-killers. She could easily blast gunboat-class opponents to wreckage from beyond the horizon. In fact, her helicopter could do so on its own using Sea Skua missiles. But before the Pasdaran arrived, there would have been no adequate justification for vapourising them; and after, any use of serious firepower would have killed the British boarding party and probably innocent merchant seamen as well. It's easy to see why the Cornwall's captain held his fire, quite apart from the fact that nobody wants a war with Iran just now.

It's less easy to see why the Coalition command had lightly-armed boarding parties operating close to Iranian waters and distant from their ship. This is especially so given that the Iranians have already tried this caper once – successfully, from their point of view – and were known to be smarting after US forces in Iraq recently seized Iranians whom the Americans claimed were members of the Pasdaran's undercover al-Qods force.

Still, it's always easy to be clever with hindsight. Coalition naval forces have been operating in the Shatt al' Arab without trouble for a while now, carrying out boardings as a routine matter. The Royal Navy, indeed, has been doing board-and-search against the smuggling trade into Iraq ever since 1991. This is the first time they've had any serious trouble.

In many ways Iran doesn't seem to have a whole lot to gain here. This move by the Pasdaran isn't going to draw in the investment that the Iranian oil and gas fields deperately need; it isn't going to ease the largely-unseen but very damaging financial stranglehold the US is putting on the Iranian economy. Anybody who would see it as evidence of Iranian military puissance is probably a friend of Iran already.

But this action wasn't necessarily initiated by the Iranian government as a whole. The Pasdaran don't always ask permission for this kind of thing. The operation may have been planned well in advance – Admiral Sir Alan West, former head of the Royal Navy, thinks so. However, the MoD says that when the Iranians were asked just where they had seized the Navy people, the first answer they gave was actually in Iraqi waters. It was only when this was pointed out to them that they offered another position on their own side of the line.

This does suggest that planning and coordination may not have been exactly immaculate, and that the whole caper may have been a bit of a bright idea on the part of the Pasdaran. It should be noted that the Pasdaran have long been reportedly heavily involved in profit-motive smuggling into Iraq, and they might want to back off Coalition coastal patrols for no other reason than protection of their own revenues.

All in all, it may not just be the British government that's pushing for an early release of the imprisoned marines and sailors. There may be quite a lot of Iranians on their side as well. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.