After a tense week of diplomacy between American and Iranian representatives, Iran has called off a deployment of warships to the Atlantic Ocean, the semi-official Fars news agency said on Sunday, shelving plans for its vessels to approach US maritime borders in response to the US navy’s presence in the Gulf.
The announcement comes shortly after Iran overturned the death sentence of a former US marine imprisoned in Iran on charges of working for the CIA. The American, Amir Hekmati, has had his sentence reduced to 10 years in prison by a supreme court decision. The commuted sentence is a positive signal for US-Iranian relations, but an ongoing debate over Iran’s nominated diplomat to the UN threatens to derail nuclear negotiations. The diplomat, Hamid Aboutalebi, is barred entry to the US due to alleged links to the 1979 hostage crisis, but Tehran has refused to consider a new candidate.
A senior Iranian naval commander was quoted in February as saying that several warships would be sent towards US maritime borders in the Atlantic, although the Pentagon said at the time that it was not concerned and that many countries operated in the ocean’s international waters.
On Sunday, Fars quoted navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari as saying: “Due to a change in schedule, the battle Group-29 of the naval forces of the Iranian navy will not head to the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the mission will possibly be given to another group.”
He gave no reason for the decision but said warships’ missions were likely to change “depending on the situation in the region”, such as a rise in piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
Full article: Iran cancels plan to have warships approach US borders in Atlantic (The Guardian)