In First, Iranian Ships Sail for Atlantic
Move comes amidst annoyance at Syrian talks snub
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2014 8:30 AM CST
In this Feb. 22, 2011 file photo, the Iranian navy frigate IS Alvand passes through the Suez Canal en route to the Mediterranean, the first use by an Iranian warship since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – An Iranian destroyer and helicopter carrier today set out for the Atlantic Ocean, in the country's first attempt to extend its naval power there, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, according to the AP. The ships will be both securing trade routes and training naval cadets during their three-month sail, says Iran's top admiral. Another admiral adds that Iran is demonstrating its defensive capabilities while sending a message of friendship to the world, according to the Times of Israel.

Iran has been bulking up its navy in recent years, partially in response to the US' own buildup in the region, and once even threatened to patrol the US east coast. (Although at sea there's been some cooperation, with the US repeatedly rescuing Iranian ships.) The mission comes in the wake of a new tension-reducing nuclear pact, but also in the wake of Iran being kicked out of Syrian peace negotiations—a snub that it today blamed on the US, the Washington Post and New York Times report, with Iran calling the move "deplorable." Russia also rebuked the about-face, calling it "unseemly" but "not a catastrophe."