The Iranians also blundered in diplomatic talks by giving the British their own compass reference for the place where they said the 14 men and one woman had been seized. When Britain plotted these on a map and pointed out that the spot was in Iraq’s maritime area, the Iranians came up with a new set of coordinates, putting the seizure in their own waters.
The speed and cunning shown by the Revolutionary Guards has raised suspicions that their action was premeditated. A senior military officer described it as “deliberate”.
So it probably went something like this:
Iranian Diplomat: The British Servicemen were seized by these coordinates right here. Look, it proves they were in Iranian waters!
British Diplomat: Um…sir? Those coordinates you gave are STILL in Iraqi waters, wtf are you trying to pull?
Iranian Diplomat: Oops!…um…Let me check, hold on…*crickets*…Ah yes, here are the REAL coordinates, those first ones we gave you were a mistake.
British Diplomat: So you expect us to believe that the SECOND SET of coordinates you’ve provided deems to be true?
Caught in the act, Iran changes coordinates on the British…Unbelievable
From the start, the Iranian Ambassador to London gave British diplomats a set of coordinates for the location of the confrontation.
Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, told the Iranian Foreign Minister that these compass points actually indicated a spot clearly in Iraqi waters. She tried to give Iran an exit route by suggesting that it might all be a misunderstanding that could be resolved by an immediate release of the captives.
On Monday, Iran surprised Britain by coming up with a “corrected” set of coordinates. “The two Iranian positions are just under a nautical mile apart, 1,800 yards or so,” Vice-Admiral Charles Style, a Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, said yesterday.
Mrs Beckett told the Iranian Foreign Minister that she could not accept the Iranians’ version of events. She told MPs in the House of Commons that it was “impossible to believe, given the seriousness of the incident, that the Iranians could have made such a mistake with the original coordinates, which after all they gave us over several days”.