McCain: Iran's seizure of ships, temporary detainment of U.S. sailors illegal

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U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement late last week on Iran's temporary seizure of two U.S. vessels and detainment of 10 U.S. sailors.

“This week, the Obama administration desperately clung to the line that the Iranians acted properly and graciously toward the U.S. sailors they detained. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said they were offered ‘the proper courtesy that you would expect.’ Secretary of State John Kerry offered his ‘gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter,’ and Vice President Joe Biden described the seizure and detainment as ‘standard nautical practice.’“

McCain condemned the photo Iran released of the soldiers kneeling in their ship with their hands on their heads and said it was used for propaganda.

“The Iranian seizure of U.S. ships and sailors this week was a clear violation of international law. The Iranians had the right to approach the vessel to verify its nationality. Once determining that the vessels were sovereign immune warships of the United States, the Iranian government had no right to stop, board or search the vessel. They had no authority to exercise any control of U.S. Navy personnel on the vessel, or to remove them from the vessel. The exploitation of those sailors by photograph, and the video of a forced apology was inappropriate and inconsistent with well-established principles of international law.“

“The United States claims full rights of sovereign immunity for all naval vessels. All warships enjoy sovereign immunity from interference by the authorities of nations other than the flag nation. Police and port authorities may board the warship only with the permission of the commanding officer. While on board the ship in foreign waters, the crew of a warship are immune from local jurisdiction. A warship cannot be required to consent to an onboard search or inspection."

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