Iran Planning Naval Missions beyond Mediterranean Sea

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Navy Commander Read Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said his forces will go on international missions in waters farther than the Mediterranean Sea.

The Admiral said Iran's naval forces were only deployed in the Persian Gulf a decade ago, but have since made giant advancements and go on missions in volatile waters in far seas.

"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," said the Navy commander.

On July 19 Sayyari announced for the first time that Iran was going to send "a flotilla into the Atlantic" near the US coasts.

Two months later Sayyari reiterated the plan, saying the Iranian Navy plans to move vessels into the Atlantic Ocean to start a naval buildup "near maritime borders of the United States".

"Like the arrogant powers that are present near our marine borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to the American marine borders," Sayyari said, addressing a ceremony marking the 31st anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.

Sayyari gave no details of when such a deployment could happen or the number or type of vessels to be used.

The Iranian navy has been developing its presence in international waters since last year, regularly launching vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates operating in the area.

Iran also sent two ships into the Mediterranean for the first time in February, via the Suez Canal, to the annoyance of Israel and the United States.

And in July, Sayyari announced that an Iranian submarine had completed an inaugural mission in the Southern Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.