Sunday, 09 February 2014 - 12:26
Iranian warships headed towards US
A number of Iranian warships have been ordered to approach U.S. maritime borders as a response to the stationing of U.S. vessels in the Gulf.
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Haddad, described as commander of the Iranian navy's northern fleet, said the vessels had started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via "waters near South Africa.
In Washington, a U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, cast doubt on any claims that the Iranian ships were approaching U.S. maritime borders.
But the official added that "ships are free to operate in international waters."
The United States and its allies regularly stage naval exercises in the Gulf, saying they want to ensure freedom of navigation in the waterway through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports passes.
U.S. military facilities in the region include a base for its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf Arab kingdom of Bahrain.
Iran sees the Gulf as its own backyard and believes it has a legitimate interest in expanding its influence there.