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US Watching 2 Iranian Warships in the Atlantic

Vessels' destination is unknown, but speculation abounds that they're delivering arms to Venezuela
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2021 9:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Two warships from Iran have popped up in the Atlantic Ocean this week, though no one is saying where they're going or what their objective is. Per the Hill, the arrival of the Sahand destroyer and its support vessel, the intel-gathering Makran, in Atlantic waters was announced by Iran on Thursday, with Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari telling reporters the development showed "the power and robustness of the Islamic Republic of Iran," according to state media. Sayyari noted the ships wouldn't be stopping at any ports of call, and that their sailing was "the Iranian navy's longest and most challenging voyage yet," per the AP, which adds the rare mission far from home comes the week before Iran is set to hold its next presidential election. One theory that's popped up is that the vessels are headed for Venezuela, loaded with arms and fast-attack boats.

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US officials told Politico this week that the Biden administration has issued warnings to both Venezuela and Cuba to turn the ships away if they show up in port, noting they're a "threat" to US partners in the Western Hemisphere and that the US will take "appropriate measures" to deal with them. A senior Biden administration official tells the outlet the arms said to be on board the two vessels appear to be part of an arrangement between Iran and Venezuela made last year during the Trump administration. Meanwhile, a deal has also reportedly been struck between Iran and Russia, with officials saying the latter is getting ready to provide the former with a sophisticated satellite system that will help Iran keep tabs on military targets across the Middle East and elsewhere—an "unprecedented" perk for Iran, per the Washington Post. (Read more Iran stories.)

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