Publius Pundit says that the "Softer, Gentler Iran" is a made for media attempt to show that Iranians can be trusted with nuclear technology and will play by the "rules".
Belmont Club says that there was and is an ongoing prisoner swap.
British troops left on a plane for England.
Your people have been really kind to us, and we appreciate it very much," one of the British men told Ahmadinejad in English. Another male service member said: "We are grateful for your forgiveness."
Ahmadinejad responded in Farsi, "You are welcome."
Three members of the crew were later interviewed on Iranian state-run television, apologizing for the alleged incursion into Iran's waters and again thanking Ahmadinejad for their release.
"I can understand why you're insulted by the intrusion into the waters," said Lt. Felix Carman, shown seated on a couch.
"Thank you for letting us go and we apologize for our actions, but many thanks for having it in your hearts to let us go free," Turney said.
ROE, SOP and Rules for Captured Prisoners of foreign hostile nations.
London Times: From War to Costume Party
BBC: Apologies for the intrusion.
BBC: Pragmatists in Iran Prevail?
The Independent: All the World's a Stage
I would be surprised if these sailors and marines are repatriated to their ship. I think there is going to be a serious problem with their behavior while in captivity. While the country is publically extatic to have them returned, privately, they've caused quite a bit of consternation. Were they coerced? Or did they treat it as one big "lark"?
Either way, the questions will remain with them. They will be debriefed and assigned a desk job "stateside" anyway. What happens after that is anyone's guess, but, aside from the method of their capture due to lax oversight that may change SOP, and how to behave in captivity.
More information on Economic Warfare.
Finally, a thought regarding the immediate "why" Iran may have interdicted the British right at that moment. From October 2006:
From October 30 to 31, 2006, U.S. military forces in the Persian Gulf will join the armed forces of several other countries to hold a naval exercise in the interception and search of ships carrying weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles. Though long planned, the exercise has added importance because of this month’s nuclear test in North Korea and President George W. Bush’s subsequent warning that Pyongyang will be “held to account” if it sells nuclear material to Iran or al-Qaeda.
Proliferation Security Initiative
The exercise, involving the simulated interdiction and searching of a cargo ship, is part of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a program proposed by President Bush at a G-8 summit in Poland in May 2003. Intended to keep WMD out of the hands of U.S.-designated rogue states and terrorists, PSI calls for sharing intelligence information and practicing interdiction techniques and coordination. The first and foremost PSI target has always been North Korea, but its most widely known and successful action was the 2003 interception of the Libyan-bound ship BBC China, which was ordered into an Italian port and found to be carrying Pakistani-designed uranium enrichment centrifuge parts.
Maybe, just maybe, there was something in the water that the IRGC didn't want the British to interdict and find. Certainly, the bruhaha over the missing Brits caused the ships in the area to change operations. Like, say, not searching some ships it would have? Or not seeing a ship that slipped by the net?
Iran press has recently released statements stating that the Iranians will triple their enriched uranium output. Something that had many observers scratching their heads wondering how they would do that with the Russians gone.
Maybe it is easier than we think.