Iran is sending warships toward United States maritime borders as tensions between the nations continue to rise.
On Friday the Iranian news organization Fars reported that the warships were meant as a response to the United States stationing vessels in the Gulf.
“Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message,” the agency quoted Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad as saying.
Iran is reportedly sending the warships toward the Atlantic Ocean by South Africa, though US officials expressed doubts that the ships would truly approach US maritime borders.
In the past few months there have been growing tensions between Iran and the United States over use of the Gulf. The US maintains bases in the region, including one in the kingdom of Bahrain, and says it wants to maintain freedom to navigate in waters that contain 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exporting traffic.
But Iran has resisted the encroaches into what it sees as its territory.
Tensions between the nations came to a head in September when Iran reportedly threatened to attack if the United States followed through on threats to strike Syria. The threat, reportedly intercepted from Iran to militants in Iraq, included plans to strike the US Embassy and other American interests in Iraq if the United States sent cruise missiles toward Syria.
The United States has also conducted war games in the region, reportedly to defer Iran from blocking the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, which it has threatened to do if it came under military attack for its nuclear program.
The warships Iran has sent to the Atlantic Ocean include a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship, which departed last month from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. The ships are reportedly on a three-month mission.