Pelosi: Iran nuclear deal aided in sailors' return

Story highlights

  • "The fact is they are free. They're back. It happened quickly," Pelosi told CNN's Chris Cuomo
  • Pelosi framed the return of the sailors as a vindication of the Obama administration's efforts to develop a diplomatic relationship

Washington (CNN)House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended the Iran nuclear deal even as tensions between Washington and Tehran flared over the detention of 10 American sailors, arguing that "this is proof that building a diplomatic relationship with Iran, at least in terms of the nuclear treaty, has served us well."

Pelosi framed the return of the sailors on Wednesday morning after a short detention as a vindication of the Obama administration's efforts to develop a diplomatic relationship with the longtime U.S. foe.
"The fact is they are free. They're back. It happened quickly," Pelosi told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "And I think the diplomacy involved in the treaty and the fact that the implementation day is imminent all weighed in to make this something that was resolved as quickly as possible."
Many of the GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls also linked the sailors' detention to the nuclear deal, but they portrayed the incident as a result of American weakness.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Tuesday night said the incident is "just an indication of where the hell we're going."
He later criticized the nuclear deal in an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett that aired Wednesday on "OutFront."
"When you look at this Iran deal where we're giving $150 billion, we get nothing, we don't even get our prisoners back. And then you see the way they treat us, with guns pointed at these young sailors' heads. They only let them go, Erin, just so you understand, to get the $100 billion that's due over the next week. Otherwise, you would have never gotten them back -- unless I was president, by the way."
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson tweeted: "While POTUS is preparing to talk about his so called "accomplishments", 10 of our American sailors are being held by #Iran."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted: "If our sailors aren't coming home yet, they need to be now. No more bargaining. Obama's humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again."
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also joined in the Obama-bashing. "This is the latest manifestation of the weakness of Barack Obama, that every bad actor ... views Obama as a laughingstock," he said.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum demanded the sailors' immediate return.
"WH says our sailors are being given courtesies? This is feckless. WH is endangering our troops. Demand their return NOW!" he tweeted.