Iran to send warships to the Atlantic, closer to U.S. waters
Updated 20:18, 07-Jan-2019
The Iranian navy will send warships to deploy in the Atlantic from March, a top commander said on Friday. 
This move has been seen as the Islamic Republic's effort to counter the U.S. military presence in the Gulf. 
A flotilla will leave for the Atlantic early in the Iranian new year, starting from March, Iran's naval deputy commander said.
"The Atlantic Ocean is far and the operation of the Iranian naval flotilla might take five months," Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
He said Sahand, a newly-built destroyer, would be one of the warships. 
Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters and Iran says it is equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and has electronic warfare capabilities.
Hassani said in December that Iran would soon send two to three vessels on a mission to Venezuela.
A senior Iranian military official said last month that the navy could sail in the Atlantic near U.S. waters since U.S. aircraft carriers were allowed to move around in international waters near Iran.
"By their continuous presence in international waters, Iranian naval forces aim to implement the orders of commander-in-chief of the armed forces (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), wave the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran, thwart the Iranophobia plots, and secure shipping routes," Hassani said.
A U.S.-Iranian war of words has escalated since U.S. President Donald Trump took Washington out of a world powers' nuclear deal with Iran in May, and reimposed sanctions on its banking and energy sectors.
(Top image: Iranian warships take part in a naval drill, Velayat-90, war game on the Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran, January 1, 2012. /VCG Photo)
Source(s): Reuters