Iran seizes Americans hours before Obama addresses nation

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In what some Republicans are calling a defiant act intended to humiliate the United States, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized and detained two U.S. Navy boats and 10 American sailors on Tuesday, just hours before President Obama was to deliver his final State of the Union address to the nation.

The sailors, nine men and one woman, were detained near Farsi Island. The sailors were reportedly on a training mission when one of the boats encountered mechanical problems and drifted into what Iran says are its territorial waters.

A statement released early Wednesday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said that the Americans are being held on Farsi and are being treated “with the Islamic conduct customary of the soldiers of the Guards naval forces, and they are in good health and being kept in a proper location.”

Speaking at the Capitol ahead of the president’s speech, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that he expected the sailors to be released “very soon.”

And a senior administration official told CNN that the White House does not consider this to be an act of agression by Iran, adding that the U.S. has received “high-level assurances” that the Iranians will release the Americans promptly.

But Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark), a leading opponent of President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal, said in an interview with CNN that the timing was not coincidental. “It’s humiliating to Barack Obama and, therefore, the United States to have America sailors held hostage during this final State of the Union,” Cotton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.  Cotton suggested that the nuclear deal had emboldened the Iranians to try and make the United States look foolish.

He warned, “It won’t be the final humiliation.”