TEHRAN, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A senior Iranian naval officer says Iran is sending several fleets of warships to the U.S. maritime borders.
"The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage toward the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," Adm. Afshin Rezayee Haddad, commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet, said Saturday. "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message."
The move is in response to the United States' increased naval presence in the Persian Gulf in recent years, Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency reported.
This is not the first time Iran has threatened to move its warships near U.S. maritime borders, CNN reported.
"It's important to understand that, at this point, we have an announcement not a deployment. They've stated this aspiration before," a U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Freedom of the seas doesn't just apply to fish. It applies to all maritime nations, all navies, everywhere -- so long as they understand the responsibilities which come with that freedom," the official said. "So if they chose to send their ships to the Atlantic, I'm sure they won't be surprised to find many, many others already there."