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McCain Threatens to Subpoena U.S. Sailors Held by Iran

Sen. John McCain said Sunday he would subpoena 10 U.S. sailors to testify about their brief detention by Iran if the Obama administration doesn't hand over the findings of an investigation into the incident by the end of the month.

"It's an option that I do not want to exercise," McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters as he was returning to the United States from an international security conference in Germany.

The sailors were detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps after their two patrol boats strayed into Iranian waters on Jan. 12. U.S. officials later blamed a navigational problem.

Iran's Release of 10 U.S. Sailors Heads off International Crisis 2:32

The Americans were freed the next day after Secretary of State John Kerry intervened with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, averting a diplomatic crisis just days before implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.

Related: U.S. Sailors Detained by Iran Are 'Safely Returned'

Iranian media broadcast videos of the detainees, including scenes in which Revolutionary Guards personnel trained weapons on the sailors as they knelt.

The Navy has briefed McCain several times about the incident and will continue to do so, a U.S. official told Reuters.

McCain said he had been told that the sailors were still being debriefed, but he added that he assumed that administration members were "dragging their feet" in completing an investigation into the incident, which he accused Iran of exploiting for propaganda purposes.

"I guarantee you, if they don't have a debrief by the 1st of March, like they said, we'll have a hearing, and we'll subpoena. We're not going to wait any longer," McCain said. "We will subpoena the individuals if we have to."