While the incident was widely seen as a potential flash point between Iran and world powers, swift diplomatic work helped contain the incident, and the sailors were freed, unharmed, the next day. The new footage, however, suggests that the experience was still stressful for the Navy crew members.
Iranian hard-liners had celebrated the capture of the U.S. sailors. Hossein Salami, a senior commander in the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, had said last month that the sailors had "started crying" after their arrest, though they had been treated with "kindness" by their captors.
Shortly after the release of the sailors, Iranian state television aired an apology from one crew member. "The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here," the unnamed crew member said. "We thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance."
Last year, a long awaited nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers was reached, allowing many international sanctions on Iran to be lifted. Polls suggest that the deal has proven popular among the Iranian general public, yet many analysts say an upcoming election for the Iranian parliament and a separate body known as the Assembly of Experts could prove a victory for hard-liners who oppose the deal.
Rasool Nafisi, an expert on Iranian affairs at Strayer University, says that the release of the video appeared to serve "a triple pronged purpose," not only reminding Iranians of their country's military dominance in the Gulf region and serving as a warning to regional rival Saudi Arabia, but also acting as an "affront to the [Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's] administration as it tries to create a more friendly relations with the world."
More on WorldViews: