Iran confirmed on Thursday that it has a warship and a support vessel sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, the Associated Press reported.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh at a May 31 press conference declined to say where the ships were going.
“Iran is always present in international waters and it has this right based on international law and it can be present in international waters,” Khatibzadeh said. “No country is in a position to violate this right and I warn that no one miscalculates. Those who sit in glass houses must be careful.”
For more Associated Press reporting, see below.
The voyage of the new nationally-built destroyer Sahand and intelligence-gathering ship Makran comes amid US media reports quoting unnamed US officials as saying the ships were bound for Venezuela. AP could not immediately confirm the destination of the ships.
The ships left last month from the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran, said Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, deputy head of the Iranian army. He described their mission as the Iranian Navy’s longest and toughest voyage to date, without giving further details.
Iranian state television broadcast a short clip of the destroyer sailing through the choppy seas of the Atlantic. The video was likely shot from the Makran, a converted commercial tanker with a mobile helicopter launch pad.
“The navy is improving its seaworthiness and proving its long-term durability in adverse seas and adverse Atlantic weather conditions,” Sayyari said, adding that the warships would not call at any port in the country during the war. mission.
Footage from Maxar Technologies dated April 28 appears to show seven Iranian fast attack craft commonly associated with its paramilitary Revolutionary Guards on the Makran Bridge. Planet Labs Inc. satellite images suggest it left a port in Bandar Abbas shortly after April 29. The whereabouts of the Makran and the destroyer were not immediately known.
Politico first reported in late May, citing unnamed officials, that the ships’ final destination may be Venezuela. Iran has close ties to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and has been shipping gasoline and other goods to the country as part of a US sanctions campaign targeting fuel-starved Caracas. Venezuela reportedly paid Iran, under its own US sanctions, for the shipments.
A senior Maduro official denied press reports that the ships would dock there. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive geopolitical issues.
The fast attack craft aboard the Makran are the type the Guard uses in its tense encounters with American warships in the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz. It is not immediately clear what Venezuela’s plans would be for these ships.
“If the boats are delivered, they could form the nucleus of an asymmetric warfare force within the Venezuelan Armed Forces,” the US Naval Institute said in a previously published analysis. “This could be focused on disrupting shipping as a means of countering superior naval forces. Shipping routes to and from the Panama Canal are close to the Venezuelan coast.”
Earlier this month, fires sank Iran’s largest warship, the 207-metre (679ft) Kharg, which has been used to resupply other fleet ships at sea and conduct drills. coaching. Authorities have given no cause for the fire, which follows a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting commercial vessels in Middle Eastern waterways.
The unusual trip comes ahead of Iran’s June 18 presidential election, which will see voters choose a successor to relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani.