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Saturday, March 24th 2007

If This Happens, How Long Can The Option Of Force Be Kept Off The Table?

This is a bit of a shocker to me. Drudge is linking to an article at Timesonline.co.uk claiming Iran will indict the captured British marines for espionage. It isn’t pasted all over the BBC front page and the source is an Iranian website, but if this does happen I’m liable to get a tension headache.

A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted.

Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”

The penalty for espionage in Iran is death. However, similar accusations of spying were made when eight British servicemen were detained in the same area in 2004. They were paraded blindfolded on television but did not appear in court and were freed after three nights in detention.

Iranian student groups called yesterday for the 15 detainees to be held until US forces released five Revolutionary Guards captured in Iraq earlier this year.

“Associates,” what the hell is that? Probably just hard line talk from private groups coming because of the Security Council’s new sanctions on Iran.

The new sanctions block Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of individuals and companies involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the decision was “illegal” and “unjustifiable”.

The sanctions don’t go nearly far enough. Especially after the escalation of the past few days.