DUBAI, April 13 Iran has called off a deployment
of warships to the Atlantic Ocean, the semi-official Fars news
agency said on Sunday, shelving plans for its vessels to
approach U.S. maritime borders in response to the U.S. navy's
presence in the Gulf.
A senior Iranian naval commander was quoted in February as
saying that several warships would be sent towards U.S. maritime
borders in the Atlantic although the Pentagon said at the time
that it was not concerned and that many countries operated in
the ocean's international waters.
But on Sunday, Fars quoted Navy commander Admiral Habibollah
Sayyari as saying: "Due to a change in schedule, the battle
Group-29 of the naval forces of the Iranian navy will not head
to the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the mission will
possibly be given to another group."
He gave no reason for the decision but said warships'
missions were likely to change "depending on the situation in
the region", such as a rise in piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
"So (the) Group-29, which consists of the Sabalan destroyer,
Khark logistics carrier and two helicopters... will not go to
the Atlantic Ocean and will return home within days," Sayyari
was quoted as saying.
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.
Iran, whose entire 1,800 km (1,120 miles) southern border
runs along the Gulf and the adjacent Gulf of Oman, has often
said it could block the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the two
waters, if Tehran came under military attack over its disputed
(Reporting by Mehrdad Balali; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing
by Sami Aboudi and Raissa Kasolowsky)