Iranian warships that are making their way toward U.S. maritime borders could be in response to US occupation of Gulf waters, said somewhat official Fars news agency on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Fars reported that the plan was part of "Iran's response to Washington's beefed up naval presence in the Persian Gulf."
Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, identified as commander of the Iranian navy's northern fleet seemed to confirm that statement saying, "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message," as reported by Fars.
Does the threat hold water? The thing is, this report from Fars could not be confirmed independently. In fact, the AP reported that the giant troop of warships is simply a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship. They left last month from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, and they are only carrying 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews.
In addition to that news, the White House doesn't seem at all worried about this report by Fars. Apparently, the United States and our allies regularly stage exercises in the Persian Gulf in order to ensure that the waterway remains free through which a huge amount of the entire world's oil exports pass through.
An anonymous U.S. defense official said they doubt claims that the Iranian ships were even approaching U.S. maritime borders, however, they added that "ships are free to operate in international waters."
CNN reports another statement from an anonymous defense official who said, "It's important to understand that, at this point, we have an announcement not a deployment. They've stated this aspiration before."
In fact, they stated it twice in 2011.
They added, "Freedom of the seas doesn't just apply to fish. It applies to all maritime nations, all navies, everywhere -- so long as they understand the responsibilities which come with that freedom," the defense official said. "So if they chose to send their ships to the Atlantic, I'm sure they won't be surprised to find many, many others already there."
Considering the size of Iran's Navy, this just may be another round of serious chest-beating. I suppose time will tell.
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