The Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair, made thinly veiled threats against Iran unless the hostages are released. Iran captured 15 British sailors who were conducting lawful boarding operations in Iraqi waters.

Although the Iranians claim the British sailors were surrounded in Iranian territory, the British have said they will release evidence to the contrary. Presumably that means satellite imagery. It might also mean intercepted communications. In the area of truthfulness between jolly old England and Axis of Evil Iran, my bet is with the stoic Brits.

Meanwhile, the US has ratcheted up the pressure by conducting in-your-face war game exercises off the Iranian coast.

Efforts to secure the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel held by Iran will enter a “different phase” if diplomatic moves fail, Tony Blair has said.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said Mr Blair’s remarks about a “different phase” did not refer to any extreme diplomatic action, such as expelling Iranian diplomats from Britain or military action.

Despite the spokesman’s subsequent comments, “different phase” is unmistakable in diplomatic speak. Bluster or bravado? We’ll see.

[tags]british+sailors, iran, england, great+britain, tony+blair, different+phase, war, hostages[/tags]