Asked today if the Obama administration appeased Iran to win the release of 10 sailors seized in the Persian Gulf, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Iran has never been appeased.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps released video of what it said was the seizure of the crew and their two boats, with the U.S. sailors on deck kneeling with their hands behind their heads. The IRGC said they let the sailors go today after determining that the pair of U.S. boats accidentally strayed into their waters.
“The Americans have undertaken not to repeat such mistakes,” the IRGC statement added.
Vice President Joe Biden told CBS after the State of the Union address that one of the U.S. boats “had engine failure and drifted into Iranian waters.”
At her press conference on Capitol Hill today, Pelosi said “there was either a navigational or a mechanical error that placed our sailors, 10 of them, in the situation that we are in.”
“We’re looking forward to a fuller briefing as to everything that transpired, but what did happen was that in record time, the issue was — the situation was resolved,” she said. “The soldiers are safely returned and I think that the — frankly I think that the diplomacy that was established during the negotiation of the accord helped facilitate that speedy — I think it’s really even speedy resolution of the situation.”
Pressed on whether she was troubled by the treatment of the Americans — particularly the humiliating images released by Iran — Pelosi reiterated the speed with which the sailors were released. “And I think that’s record time for all of the — shall we say, apprehension of people who may or may not have been in their waters.”
“I’ve been to Bahrain. I’ve been there under the auspices of the Office of Naval Intelligence. It’s all close there; you know, Bahrain, Iran, you can practically see across the Persian Gulf, and then Kuwait just off to the side there,” she said. “So, there’s close proximity as to whose waters — there might a navigation or mechanical error could enable something like this to happen.”
“But let’s see. I’m big on getting the facts on what happened. But I’m glad that it was resolved so quickly.”
Pelosi acknowledged that Iran still holds other Americans hostage, for as long as 4 1/2 years in the case of Marine vet Amir Hekmati.
“Do you think that, right now, this administration is sort of still appeasing Iran in terms of how they’re handling this particular situation?” a reporter asked.
“I don’t think this administration has ever appeased Iran,” Pelosi replied. “So, if you’re asking me if they’re still doing it, no.”
“And I do think that this — these Americans’ names are brought up in every meeting as a very high priority. I was honored yesterday to have the brother of the Washington Post reporter come to my office last night, during our reception before the president’s speech. And obviously we have all been trying to weigh in wherever we can on the subject,” she added.
“But the president didn’t mention a number of things last night. He didn’t mention everything last night. But we do know they mentioned it at the table where it counts and that is in any negotiations that we’re having with Iran. It’s a very high priority for many of us.”
The congressman of the Hekmati family, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), appealed to Obama for the second year in a row to say the hostages’ names during his State of the Union address. He did not, even though siblings of Hekmati and reporter Jason Rezaian were in the chamber watching the speech.