The Iranian navy plans to move naval vessels out of the Persian Gulf and into the Atlantic Ocean, “near maritime borders of the United States,” the Tehran Times reported Tuesday.
According to the English-language paper based in Tehran, the announcement came from a top Iranian naval officer on Tuesday.
“As the global arrogance (forces of imperialism) have a (military) presence near our sea borders, we also plan to have a strong presence near the U.S. sea borders with the help of the soldiers who are loyal to the vali-e faqih (supreme jurisprudent),” said Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, as quoted and paraphrased by the Tehran Times.
“We’ve been pushing freedom of the seas for years and the Iranian navy can go wherever it wants,” said Pentagon Spokesman Capt. John Kirby.
Iranians might face a challenge in refueling its fleet. Some in the Pentagon have speculated it could gas up in Venezuela, whose President, Hugo Chavez, is known to have a close relationship with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranians gave no indication of when or what kind of vessels they might deploy, but the announced plan comes just months after Iran sent warships through the Suez following the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It was the first time Iran had moved ships into the Mediterranean and the move put Israel on high alert.
The naval unit plans to establish direct contact with the U.S. when it hits the Gulf of Mexico, a commander in the Iranian navy said. Officials in the Pentagon strongly denied any planned port visits by the Iranians.
One senior official echoed Capt. Kirby in saying that Iran has the pleasure of moving wherever it desires in international waters. But with known intent to approach U.S. maritime borders, he added, “they might have some company.”