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Two Iranian warships, suspected of transporting weapons to Venezuela in defiance of US warnings, have reached the Atlantic Ocean, Iranian state television reported Thursday.
The nation-built destroyer Sahand and intelligence vessel Makran left last month from the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran, Iranian military deputy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said.
He described their mission as the Iranian Navy’s longest and most difficult voyage to date. Iranian state television broadcast a short clip of the destroyer sailing the rough seas of the Atlantic.
Two Iranian warships, believed to carry weapons to Venezuela in defiance of US warnings, have reached the Atlantic Ocean, Iranian state television reported on Thursday, with footage of the destroyer Sahand (pictured)
The former Makran tanker is one of two vessels currently sailing south along the east coast of Africa
The video was likely shot from the Makran, a converted commercial tanker with a mobile helicopter launch pad.
“The Navy is improving its maritime capability and proving its long-term durability in adverse seas and adverse Atlantic weather conditions,” Sayyari said, adding that the warships would not have called at any country’s ports for. the mission.
Images from Maxar Technologies dated April 28 appear to show seven Iranian rapid attack devices typically associated with its paramilitary Revolutionary Guards on the Makran Bridge.
Satellite images from Planet Labs Inc. suggest it left a port in Bandar Abbas sometime after April 29, but it was not immediately clear where the Makran and destroyer are now located.
Late last month, the United States said security agencies were tracking the two warships and trying to find out what kind of cargo they were carrying as Iran tried to intimidate Washington.
Iran has close ties to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (left) and has shipped gasoline and other goods to the country as part of a US sanctions campaign targeting out-of-fuel Caracas
Iran has close ties to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and has shipped gasoline and other goods to the country as part of a US sanctions campaign targeting run-out Caracas.
Venezuela reportedly paid Iran, under its own US sanctions, for the shipments.
Iran has also established both a car assembly plant and a huge cement factory in Venezuela.
A senior Maduro official denied press reports that the ships would dock there. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive geopolitical issues.
At a press conference on May 31, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh declined to say where the Makran was going.
“Iran is always present in international waters and it has this right based on international law and it can be present in international waters,” he said.
“No country is in a position to violate this right, and I warn that no one makes miscalculations. Those who sit in glass houses must be careful.
Iranian nation-built destroyer Sahand (pictured) is currently sailing in the Atlantic Ocean (pictured in the Persian Gulf in April 2019)
The Sahand (pictured) carries surface-to-surface missiles, air defense systems and torpedoes
The rapid attack devices aboard the Makran are of the type the Guard uses in their tense encounters with American warships in the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz.
It is not immediately clear what Venezuela’s plans would be for these ships.
“If the ships are delivered, they could form the core of an asymmetric war force within the Venezuelan armed forces,” the US Naval Institute said in a previously released analysis.
“It could be focused on disrupting navigation as a way to counter superior naval forces. The shipping routes to and from the Panama Canal are found near the Venezuelan coast. ‘
Earlier this month, fires sank Iran’s largest warship, the 207-meter (679-foot) Kharg, which was used to refuel other fleet ships at sea and conduct drills. training.
Authorities have given no cause for the blaze, which follows a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting commercial vessels in Middle Eastern waterways.
The unusual trip precedes the Iranian presidential election on June 18, which will see voters choose a successor for the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
The Kharg, an Iranian navy support ship and one of the force’s largest ships, sank this morning near the port of Jask after burning for more than 20 hours overnight
Iran said the fire broke out “in one of the ship’s systems” on Tuesday, without giving details. It comes amid series of attacks that Iran and Israel blame on each other