Source: The Israel Project (Iran seizes US Navy boats and crew)
Iran is holding two US Navy boats and 10 US sailors, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, just hours before President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told the Associated Press that the boats were sailing between Kuwait and Bahrain when the US lost contact with them. Just a few weeks ago, Iranian gunboats fired unguided missiles near the US aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman which was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have previously predicted that the nuclear deal could moderate Iran. However, the deal appears to have emboldened hardliners, as Iran has stepped up its destabilizing activity in the region since the nuclear deal was reached. The Iranian regime conducted two ballistic missile tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, arrested two US persons, convicted a US citizen under false charges, launched cyberattacks against the US State Department, held anti-American rallies, violated international travel bans, and exported weapons to Syria and Yemen in violation of the arms embargo on Iran. Iran has also escalated its support for the Assad regime in Syria.
Experts have long worried that the nuclear deal with Iran would both embolden Iranian hardliners and constrain the US from responding, because the Iranians would threaten to use any US response as a pretext for walking away from its obligations under the deal. Reacting to the latest incident, former State Department Middle East advisor Aaron David Miller tweeted, “Iran detains US sailors. Released promptly or not, a hostile act by a regime that acts w/o US cost/consequence.”
When lobbying in favor of the deal, President Obama vowed to push back against Iran’s troubling regional behavior. However, last month the administration backed away from imposing sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile activity. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed frustration with the delay and are introducing legislation to exact a price on Iran in response to its violations and aggressive behavior.