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Politics Austin says he's 'concerned' about Iranian ships in Atlantic

00:55  11 june  2021
00:55  11 june  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Iran sends warships to Atlantic amid Venezuela concerns

  Iran sends warships to Atlantic amid Venezuela concerns DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean in a rare mission far from the Islamic Republic, Iran's state TV reported on Thursday, without offering the vessels’ final destination. The trip by the new domestically built destroyer Sahand and the intelligence-gathering vessel Makran comes amid U.S. media reports, citing anonymous American officials, saying the ships were bound for Venezuela. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the ships' destination.

Austin said he shares Blumenthal’ s concerns , adding that "I am absolutely concerned about the proliferation of weapons, any type of weapons, in our neighborhood.” He added that he had not spoken to any other leaders from countries in the region about the ships ’ movement. POLITICO first reported last week that U. S . officials have been monitoring two Iranian navy ships , the forward staging ship Makran and the frigate Sahand, that sailed down the east coast of Africa around the Cape of Good Hope and are now heading northwest across the Atlantic .

The Iranian Navy says that the Makran, a sea base-like ship that only entered service in January, and the corvette Sahand are now sailing in the South Atlantic and has released video of the latter vessel plowing through the waves in that region. Previous reports have indicated that the ships ' final destination is Venezuela “The precedent of allowing Iran to provide weapons to the region causes me great concern ,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told members of Congress at hearing today. "I am absolutely concerned about the proliferation of weapons, any type of weapons, in our neighborhood.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that he's "concerned" about the two Iranian ships that are crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Lloyd Austin wearing a suit and tie: Austin says he's 'concerned' about Iranian ships in Atlantic © Greg Nash Austin says he's 'concerned' about Iranian ships in Atlantic

While it is unclear where the two vessels are headed, Austin expressed worry that they could be transporting weapons, potentially to Venezuela, which has had an acrimonious relationship with the U.S. for years.

"The precedent of allowing Iran to provide weapons to the region causes me great concern," Austin said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

"I am absolutely concerned about the proliferation of weapons, any type of weapons, in our neighborhood," he added.

Iran Confirms Warship, Support Vessel Sailing in Atlantic Ocean

  Iran Confirms Warship, Support Vessel Sailing in Atlantic Ocean Iran's state TV reported an Iranian destroyer and support vessel are sailing in the Atlantic Ocean without revealing its final destination. Its cargo is suspected to end up in Venezuela.Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh, in a news conference on May 31, declined to say where the vessels were going.

Iranian state TV says that an Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean in a rare mission far from the Islamic Republic, without offering the vessels’ final destination. The website Politico first reported in late May, citing anonymous officials, that the ships ' final destination may be Venezuela. Iran maintains close ties to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and has shipped gasoline and other products to the country amid a U. S . sanctions campaign targeting fuel-starved Caracas.

He described their mission as the Iranian navy’ s longest and most challenging voyage yet, without elaborating. Iranian state TV released a short clip of the destroyer cruising through the Atlantic ’ s rough seas. The video likely was shot from the Makran, a converted commercial oil tanker with a mobile Earlier this month, fires sank Iran ’ s largest warship, the 207-meter (679-foot) Kharg, which was used to resupply other ships in the fleet at sea and conduct training exercises. Officials offered no cause for the blaze, which follows a series of mysterious explosions that began in 2019 targeting commercial ships

Austin suggested he could provide more details about the vessels, including what weapons they could be transporting, in a closed session with senators.

The testimony comes the same day that Iran publicly announced that the destroyer Sahand and the intelligence-gathering vessel Makran had arrived in the Atlantic. The voyage marks one of the ambitious trips yet by the Iranian military, which has tried and failed in the past to send ships across the ocean.

The two ships are reportedly heading for Venezuela, though Iran on Thursday did not confirm their destination.

A voyage to Venezuela, particularly if the ships are carrying weapons, would be a highly provocative move by Iran. A delivery of weapons to a Western Hemisphere adversary of the U.S. would come as Tehran is negotiating the terms of reentering the Obama-era nuclear deal and heading into presidential elections.

Politico has reported that the U.S. is using diplomatic channels to urge Venezuela and Cuba to turn away the two warships and caution them that it would work to prevent any threat to Washington's Western Hemisphere allies.

US begins shifting Afghan combat operations outside country .
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military has already begun conducting combat operations and surveillance in Afghanistan from outside the country's borders, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress on Thursday, as the troop withdrawal continues. But Austin declined to specifically address whether the U.S. will provide combat air support to the Afghan forces to prevent them or their major cities from being overrun by the Taliban after the pullout is complete. Austin said he would not “speculate on potential actions” but noted that once troops are fully withdrawn from Afghanistan it will be very difficult to provide such support to the Afghans.

usr: 0
This is interesting!