White House: Republicans 'unhappy' with sailors' release

The White House on Friday accused Republicans of being “unhappy” about Iran’s release of 10 U.S. sailors.

“I’m sure everyone is pleased, especially the sailors and their families, that they are returned safely and diplomacy did save the day,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “I know that the only people who are unhappy about it are Republicans for some reason.”

The spokesman said the country would be at war if it followed Republicans’ calls and engaged in saber-rattling with Tehran over the incident. 

“We'd probably be in a bloody war with Iran right now over our sailors,” Earnest said. 

“It is unclear to me, by the way, exactly how the safety and the security of the United States, or our men and women in uniform is advanced by starting a war with a nation like Iran that has an advanced military,” he added.

Republicans chastised the Obama administration after it was revealed Tuesday that Iran took the sailors into custody after their vessel drifted into Iranian waters. Critics called the incident a consequence of the president's soft approach toward Tehran.

The sailors’ capture cast a shadow over Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. One GOP senator, Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDems look to use Moore against GOP McConnell: 'No change of heart' on Roy Moore US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (Colo.), called on the speech to be postponed until lawmakers received a briefing. Others said it should serve as cause to renege on the nuclear deal with Iran. 

The sailors were released after less than 24 hours in custody, a move the White House said was a product of Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLobbying world Kerry: Trump not pursuing 'smart' or 'clever' plan on North Korea Tillerson will not send high-ranking delegation to India with Ivanka Trump: report MORE’s new line of communication with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. 

But Iran provoked the U.S. by releasing videos and images of the sailors in custody. In a video, a sailor apologized for the “mistake” of entering Iranian territorial waters. Administration critics called it an embarrassment for the country.

“I don't think there's any reason for anybody to be embarrassed,” Earnest said. “I think there's a reason for us to be certainly relieved” that the military personnel were released quickly.