US senator John McCain has said the Obama administration has two weeks to provide a report on the sailors briefly held hostage in Iran, or he will subpoena them to give evidence on their ordeal in court.
The Arizona senator's comments came as he returned to the US from a conference in Germany on 14 February, more than a month after the 10 sailors were released by Iran. "I guarantee you, if they don't have a debrief by the first of March like they said, we'll have a hearing and we'll subpoena. We're not going to wait any longer," McCain told Reuters. "We will subpoena the individuals if we have to."
The 10 sailors were arrested on 12 January by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp after their ship strayed into Iranian waters less than a week before the completion of the nuclear deal that saw the cessation of sanctions against Iran by the US, after the Islamic Republic was found to have complied with International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear requirements.
However, after the intervention of US Secretary of State John Kerry, the men were freed after just one day, although the incident left a bitter taste in the mouth of many Republicans, who saw the sailors' detainment as a lack of respect for the US.
It is believed the US Navy has briefed Senator McCain about the incident and that the soldiers are continuing to be debriefed before they speak with him.
Senator McCain's remarks also come just days after Iran released a video purportedly showing one of the sailors crying after being captured by the revolutionary guards corp, further angering US critics of Iran.
"We've been clear, and the Secretary was clear, about our disgust at seeing the pictures and video of our sailors being used clearly for propaganda purposes," State Department spokesman John Kirby told CNN. "That remains the case with the newly-released pictures and videos."