Iran’s routine claims of military prowess reached a new climax Monday with the announcement its warships will patrol international waters in the high seas “to protect tankers” beyond the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea.
Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in Tehran, as reported by government news agencies, “Today we witness that the Army’s naval force is deployed in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea instead of the Persian Gulf, and God willing, we will go beyond the Mediterranean in future.”
Iran has said its navy has been multiplying its naval presence in international waters since last year, deploying vessels to the Indian Ocean and dispatching two ships via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean for the first time in February 2011 to safeguardvessels from pirates.
Iran’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ali Akbar Marzban said on May 18 that Iran’s Navy has conducted at least 85 anti-piracy missions in international waters over the past three years.
Although not stated, Iran could use its warships to escort any future flotilla efforts to sail to Hamas-controlled Gaza, under a legal maritime blockade by Israel.
Sayyari has announced that for the first time that Iran was going to send “a flotilla into the Atlantic…near maritime borders of the United States.”
Iran frequently has made claims, such as having tested a long-range missile that can strike Israel and U.S. military bases in the region, but many of the boasts have not been substantiated.