Iran military leaders have announced that Iranian warships are heading to U.S. borders. Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, senior Iranian navy commander, stated that several warships had been dispatched to the U.S. maritime border in response to U.S. navy ships that are now off the coast of Iran. According to the IRNA news agency, the Iranian navy ships had left Iran last month and had entered the Atlantic Ocean.
Iran reports that one destroyer and one helicopter carrier supply ship left Iran and have now entered the Atlantic ocean. The ships are reported to be carrying 30 academy cadets along, with their regular crews, and are on a three-month training mission that, for the first time, will take the Iranian warships near U.S. borders.
Two possible routes include Northern Africa and Southern Africa. Although exact routes were not released, one route is via the northern shipping lanes from the Straits of Hormuz then through the Suez Canal north of Africa. The warships would then travel through the Mediterranean Sea via the Turkish Straits and enter the Atlantic just past the southern tip of Spain. The second route would be a longer travel along the lines of southern Africa. Although not confirmed, reports from Iran place the route along the southern path of South Africa. Regardless of the launch path, recent statements do report the warships have now entered the Atlantic Ocean. The crossing of the Atlantic can take several days. The two ships’ destination may be near Cuba as Iran has continued to strengthen ties with Cuba and other South American countries.
U.S. military officials have stated that there is no operational evidence to substantiate the report and that Iran had also threatened in 2011 to deploy warships to the U.S. maritime borders. The U.S. military official, speaking anonymously, said that at this point there was only an announcement and not a deployment. The official also said that the freedom of the seas applied to all nations, including Iran, and that they had rights of passage with their ships in international waters. The official said that Iran often sends ships to the Gulf of Aden to counter pirate attacks and that a couple of ships could, in theory, continue to travel south to the Horn of Africa and enter the Atlantic.
The semi-official Fars news agency reported that the action was in response to the additional U.S. navy warships attached to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet that is positioned off the coast of Bahrain. Admiral Haddad was quoted as saying that the movement of Iran warships headed to U.S. borders was a message. Although the statement did not define the message, some correspondents say that it is part of a ongoing effort by Iran to project its naval power beyond the Middle East.
The new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has not been quoted in statements regarding the Iran warships. However, Iran’s Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, stated that the U.S. would overthrow the Iranian government if it had a chance. The leader explained, “Our (hostile) stance toward the United States is due to its controlling and meddlesome attitude.” Ayatollah Khamenei further said that negotiating with arrogant countries would lead to nowhere, adding that interventionist countries attempt to place puppet rulers in power. However, the Ayatollah’s speech did not specifically mention the Iran warships that were headed to U.S. borders.
By Anthony Clark