This latest display follow a series of provocative moves by Tehran at U.S. officials in the Trump administration. According to the Washington Free Beacon, any Iranian presence in the Atlantic Ocean is certain to put U.S. military leaders in edge.
Iran seems to believe that the maneuver will influence Latin American nations hostile to the U.S., such as Venezuela and Bolivia.
It also comes at a time when devastation caused by massive earthquakes along the Iran-Iraq border caused domestic dissent, and while the economy continues to drag despite promises made by Hassan Rouhani in the wake of the nuclear agreement which lifted economic sanctions. Distraction from these issues would be convenient for the regime.
Khamenei has called for a boost in the regime’s military presence in international waters. “The navy is in the frontline of defending the country with important regions, such as Makran, the Sea of Oman, and the international waters, in front of it,” Khamenei said in Tuesday remarks celebrating Iran’s Navy Day. In a meeting with Iranian military leaders, he said, “Presence in free waters should continue similar to the past.” Khamenei further disclosed that Iran is working to produce more advanced military equipment.
He was also quoted as saying, “The navy is more advanced and capable compared with 20 years ago, but this level of advance is not convincing; and a high-speed move should be pursued with determination, high morale, lots of efforts, innovation, and action.”
However, the Iranian navy has not been seen as a blue-water navy, but appears to be content to stay in the Persian Gulf and the coastlines around the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. In fact, in 2014, former Iranian navy commander, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, said that Iran planned to send ships near the U.S. to counter the American presence in the Persian Gulf, but later said the sailings had been canceled “due to a change in schedule.” No subsequent effort to send Iranian warships on such an encounter was mounted.