Iran says it has launched warships with orders to approach US maritime borders in the Atlantic ocean, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. "This move has a message," an Iranian admiral was quoted as saying. That message: stand up against the US and its allies for stationing vessels in the Persian Gulf. A US defense official told Reuters that he doubted the claim, but said that "ships are free to operate in international waters."
The issue dates back to September 2011, when Iranian Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said his country would place ships near US maritime borders, RT.com reports. He described the mission as tit-for-tat over "the arrogant powers that are present near our maritime borders." The US and its allies hold regular naval exercises in the Gulf, saying they want to keep the waterway free for 40% of the world's seaborne oil exports. The Iranian launch consists of a helicopter-carrying gun ship and a destroyer on a 3-month mission, the BBC reports, so it's likely the same vessels Iran sent out about three weeks ago. (Read more Iran stories.)