At a moment a US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Stennis is stationed in the Persian Gulf, putting Iran's military on edge, the Iranian navy has announced plans to deploy warships to the Atlantic starting in March, in a clear attempt to increase the operating range of its forces and extend into the United States' backyard.
A top Iranian naval commander told the the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Friday, “The Atlantic Ocean is far and the operation of the Iranian naval flotilla might take five months,” and also identified that among the deployed vessels will be its Sahand destroyer, touted as Iran's latest domestic built stealth destroyer.
While suggesting that the ships could traverse the globe as part of the mission to extend operations, the IRNA described the Sahand as a "four-engine destroyer [that has] has been designed and made more advanced than its predecessor, Jamaran destroyer, with radar-evading capabilities." The navy's media statements issued by top ranking Rear Admiral Touraj Hassani also suggested the mission was handed down from the highest levels of Iranian leadership.
The Sahand is also known to be outfitted with a flight deck for helicopters and anti-aircraft systems, advanced missiles, and electronic warfare capabilities.
This latest provocative statement comes after Admiral Hassani last month declared Iran would soon deploy two or three warships on a mission to Venezuela, which the US would see as the most brazen mission yet, following on the heels of Russian temporary deployment of long range nuclear capable bombers to the Latin America country and longtime enemy of Washington.
Iranian military leaders have cited their intent to carry out such missions according to maritime law and in international waters, citing US carriers doing the same, just as American ships commonly pass near Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.
Friday's statement comes after on Thursday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif engaged in a war of words via Twitter over Iran's space program.
Hours Pompeo claimed Iran was using "virtually the same technology as ICBMs" in a "defiant" Space Launch Vehicles launch that will "advance its missile program," Iran's Zarif shot back saying "Iran's launch of space vehicles — & missile tests — are NOT in violation of Res 2231," — the UN resolution which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) on Iran's nuclear program — which the Trump administration pulled out of last May.