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Washington Plays Down Iranian Navy's Threats

U.S. defense official casts doubt on Iranian claims that ships were approaching American maritime borders.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/9/2014, 5:44 AM

Mounted cannon pictured aboard an Iranian warship
Mounted cannon pictured aboard an Iranian warship
Reuters

The United States has played down Saturday’s reports that Iran was sending warships to its maritime borders.

A U.S. defense official, speaking to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, cast doubt on any claims that the Iranian ships were approaching U.S. maritime borders.

That same official added, however, that "ships are free to operate in international waters."

Earlier, the semiofficial Iranian Fars news agency quoted the Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral as having claimed that “the Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa.”

"Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message," he claimed.

The report could not be independently verified, but it is not the first time that Iran has threatened the United States militarily.

In fact, earlier Saturday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards threatened that its drones and missiles could hit American warships in the Persian Gulf.

Iran has previously threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway leading to the Persian Gulf, in response to American military presence there.

Also on Saturday, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, verbally attacked the United States, saying Washington had a "controlling and meddlesome" attitude towards the Islamic Republic.