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Eli Lake

Kerry Thanks Iran for Resolving the Crisis It Created

Tehran broke the law by detaining 10 Americans. Washington has every reason to ignore that.
A U.S. riverine command boat.

A U.S. riverine command boat.

Photographer: MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

After the return of 10 U.S. sailors from Iranian custody Wednesday morning, the Obama administration has been eager to claim a diplomatic victory. What looked like the beginning of a hostage crisis on Tuesday night, unfolding as the president gave his last State of the Union address, was instead resolved by Wednesday morning.

The key to this success, we are told, was that the U.S. and Iran had a reliable diplomatic channel because of nuclear negotiations to defuse this potential crisis. On Wednesday, a senior State Department official briefed reporters about five phone calls between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif. Kerry made it clear that the most important issue was getting the Americans released, unharmed -- turning this into "a good story for both of us," Kerry told Zarif, according to the briefer.