Imitating the tactics of failed regimes of the 1970s, Iran is now treating the British sailors in its illegal custody as propaganda pawns. Most egregiously, the one female in the company, whom the Iranians had previously pledged to release, has been forced, in the style of American POWs during the Vietnam War and other hostages of the Stalinist Communists of the previous generation, to issue a letter calling on her country to withdraw from Iraq.
In a disinformation campaign also reminiscent of Stalinist tactics, Iran claims that it has satellite evidence that the Brits were in Iranian waters multiple times. The rest of the world is shocked to learn that Iran has satellites. Satellite TV maybe, but a country that can't refine the oil that it pumps seems to us unlikely to have launched its own surveillance satellites, to monitor its own territory, without someone else in the world noticing.
We are now ready to offer counsel to our esteemed friend Tony Blair and his allies: hang tough and be patient. The longer this goes on, the stupider the Iranians look. It will be hard to resist the urge to act precipitously, either with appeasement or military action, to get these fifteen released, not least when Iran starts show trials and the media interviews their families every night. But the greater good will be served by waiting for the inevitable pressures of world opinion and internal politics to force Iran to back down. In the meantime, continue to use this crisis to motivate other countries to marginalize the Iranian government, thereby impoverishing the regime to the point where it must accede or fall.