Iran summoned the British charge d'affaires to Tehran on Friday to protest over what it said was the illegal entry of British naval personnel into Iranian waters, state television reported.
"The Iranian Foreign Ministry has seriously objected following the illegal entry of British naval military forces into our country's waters," state television reported, adding that the personnel were "detained by Iran's border authorities for further investigation."
"This is not the first time that British military personnel during the occupation of Iraq have entered
illegally into Iran's territorial waters," state TV quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. He was not
identified by name.
The official described the incident as an "open incursion", "illegal entry" into Iranian waters, and "blatant aggression into Iranian territorial waters", and said that Iran demanded an immediate explanation from London.
A British diplomat in Tehran confirmed the charge d'affaires was summoned but gave no further details. The British Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported earlier that 15 sailors and marines from the HMS Cornwall had been taken, but said that they had been in Iraqi waters.
According to a US naval representative, British ships were operating in an Iraqi waterway that has long been disputed by Iran.
Iran's official news agency IRNA quoted an Iranian embassy spokesman in London as saying Tehran was "examining the issue" after Iran's ambassador to London was summoned to Britain's Foreign Ministry over the detentions.
The Iranian envoy, Rasoul Movahedian, met Peter Ricketts, the British Foreign Office permanent undersecretary. The latter emphasized British expectations of a safe return of all personnel and equipment.
"In today's meeting (in London), Iran's ambassador also discussed with this British official the latest situation of Iran's nuclear dossier and British efforts in the U.N. Security Council in order to pass a new resolution for sanctions against Iran," the Iranian embassy spokesman said.
AP contributed to this report