Washington (CNN) Despite 10 American sailors being in Iranian custody, President Barack Obama stuck to his State of the Union script Tuesday night and made no mention of the incident, instead touting his nuclear deal with Tehran.
“We built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. And as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war,” Obama said, in his only mention of Iran in his final State of the Union speech.
Just hours earlier, he was alerted that the sailors were being held in Iran after two small U.S. naval craft entered Iranian waters, according to U.S. defense officials.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, once Obama’s GOP challenger for the presidency, blasted the speech for not including any reference to the incident in the Persian Gulf.
“Ten American sailors have been taken into custody in Iran,” he said in a statement. “But President Obama completely omitted this latest example of Iran’s provocative behavior so as not to interfere with his delusional talking points about his dangerous nuclear deal with Iran.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy also slammed the omission.
“I was very concerned that he’s missing where the challenge of the world is with security — he sits and talks positively about Iran when they just took 10 of our Navy sailors,” he said after the speech.
There has been voice contact with the sailors captured in Iran, a senior U.S. official told CNN. The sailors — nine men and one women — said they expected to be released in the morning. The official said the plan is to meet the sailors in international waters after dawn, but did not say whether the two boats would be returned with the service members.
“Certainly, everybody should be aware of the fact we have been in touch with the Iranians and they have assured us that our sailors are safe and that they’ll be allowed to continue their journey promptly,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Full article: 10 U.S. sailors in Iranian custody (CNN)