TEHRAN (FNA)- Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari reiterated Iran’s continued presence in the international waters, and said the country has long-term plans for deployment in the high seas, including the Gulf of Aden.
“Building different destroyers, missile-launching frigates and warships, logistic warships and submarines to continue and expand the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy in free waters is a main plan on the agenda of the Navy in the current (Iranian) year (which started on March 21) to promote this Force’s scientific, military and defensive power,” Sayyari told FNA on Sunday.
He reminded that Iran’s 34th fleet of warships is already in the Gulf of Aden, “and it has just been deployed at the entrance of Bab al-Mandab” Strait.
The Navy commander reiterated Iran’s long-term plans for deploying in regional and international waters, specially the Gulf of Aden.
Sayyari expressed the hope that the 35th and 36th fleets of warships would also be dispatched to the international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to protect the Iranian cargo ships and oil tankers against the pirate attacks after the 34th flotilla comes back home at the end of its mission.
Also in an interview with Iran-based Arabic-language al-Alam news channel on Saturday, Sayyari stressed Tehran’s firm decision to continue deployment in the waterway to protect the country’s cargo ships from pirate attacks, and rejected media reports that Iran had been shooed away from the Gulf of Aden by American warships.
Asked about the US and Saudi Arabia’s claims that Iranian warships planned to deliver weapons to Ansarullah revolutionary movement in Yemen when they received a warning from the US warships and left the region, he said the Iranian fleet of warships were sent to the free waters based on the international laws to protect the cargo ships and oil tankers from pirates’ attacks, and not delivering weapons to other nations.
Implying that allegations of the Saudis and Americans are not true, the Admiral reminded that he, as Iran’s Navy commander, had officially stated the mission of the Iranian fleet and the location of its mission (Gulf of Aden), and the presence and mission of the Iranian warships was completely clear and could be monitored and verified.
He also stressed that Iran would never allow anyone to inspect its ships and vessels.
“We are present in this region and provide security coverage for our ships since, anyway, it is the route for the voyage of our ships,” he said.
Stressing Iran’s firm decision to continue deployment in the international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, he said, “We would never leave the region and give up protecting our cargo ships for the sake of their words.”
He underscored that the Iranian flotilla of warships not only provides security for the country’s cargo ships but also protects other states’ ships and oil tankers from pirate attacks.
His remarks came after media reports quoted the US officials alleging that a nine-ship Iranian convoy laden with weapons bound for Yemen turned around Thursday after being followed by US warships stationed in the area.
In relevant remarks last week, Sayyari said that no country dared to issue warning to Iranian warships in the Gulf of Aden, underlining Iran’s firm decision to continue presence in the Gulf.
His remarks came in reaction to some recent Arab media allegations that Egyptian warships had shooed away an Iranian fleet in the international waterway.
“This presence (of the Iranian flotilla of warships) continues in the free waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to fight against piracy according to the plan which was drawn at the request of the International Maritime Organization and no one can warn the Iranian warships (to move away) and this has not happened yet,” Sayyari told reporters on the sidelines of military parades held in Tehran to mark the Army Day.
Asked about the possibility of the Iranian warships’ deployment near Yemen, he said, “There is no need for our flotilla of warships to dock in Yemen, but we are present in the Gulf of Aden powerfully and at present, our 34th fleet has been sent to the region.”
“We don’t have such a plan (for leaving the waterway) and we hope that security will be established in the Gulf of Aden with the help of all countries.”
Sayyari also dismissed news reports claiming that Iranian warships had received warnings by Saudi Arabia, and said, “No threat has been made against us; we also don’t allow others to threaten or warn us since we can be present in the free and international waters based on the international laws. We haven’t entered the territorial waters of any country without permission.”
Earlier this month, the Iranian Navy’s 34th flotilla of warships left Bandar Abbas port, in Southern Hormozgan province, for the Gulf of Aden to protect the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates.
The Navy’s 34th Fleet, comprising Alborz destroyer and Bushehr helicopter-carrier warship, is conducting anti-piracy patrols in the high seas and Gulf of Aden.
The mission of the 34th fleet will last about three months in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.