A Republican congressman and former Marine officer believes that Iran had access to classified equipment that may have been aboard the two Navy boats seized by the country’s military Tuesday.
Defense News reported that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, charged Wednesday that Iran was able to access sensitive technology he suspects was aboard the riverine patrol boats, including U.S. cryptographic and satellite communications as well as sensors and jammers.
"We’d be stupid to think that they didn’t. I’m glad that the sailors are back safe, but there’s no way [the Iranian military] just let those boats sit there, and didn’t reverse engineer, or look at and copy everything that they possibly could," Hunter stated.
"That’s what I would do, that’s what we would do, that’s what Russia would do, that’s what China would do, that’s what anybody would do. To assume otherwise would be naive," the Republican lawmaker added.
The boats, which are typically equipped with sensitive communications technology, and their 10 crew members were taken into Iranian custody Tuesday after Iran accused them of drifting into its territorial waters. The Iranian military reportedly seized the boats’ GPS equipment.
Hunter said that he had no specific knowledge of what gear was aboard the naval craft but was assuming that both had high-tech equipment. Hunter, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, further stated that the Pentagon will need to specify to Congress what gear Iran was able to access in the seizure and what measures will be taken to ensure the safety of troops in the region given the assumed access of the equipment.
"What do we need to do to operate in that environment with the Iranians knowing and having all the stuff they had on those boats. The riverine boats that I saw on the news–and who knows if those are the exact same–but those are highly equipped vessels," Hunter said.
An unnamed defense official told Defense News that there was no indication of the presence of sensitive equipment on the boats.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp held the sailors and their boats overnight Tuesday, releasing them to U.S. custody the following morning. Shortly after the release, Iran state media published images of the sailors in captivity as well as photos of Iranian personnel handling the crew’s ammunition and weapons and viewing their documents.