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Iran Submarines in Red Sea to Spot Naval Vessels, Fars Says

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June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian submarines have entered the Red Sea as part of a mission to identify other nations’ military vessels and collect information about the seabed, the state-run Fars news agency reported, citing an unidentified official.

The submarines came from the Gulf of Aden, where they were dispatched in May, according to today’s report by Fars, which didn’t specify the number of vessels involved. A Pentagon spokesman in Washington, Marine Corps Colonel David Lapan, confirmed the deployment without additional details.

The submarines were sailing next to ships from the Iranian Navy’s 14th Fleet, which includes the destroyer Shahid Naghdi, Fars said. The fleet was sent to the Gulf of Aden in May to protect Iran’s cargo ships and oil tankers from attacks by Somali pirates, Fars said.

“We are not concerned if they have moved submarines into the Red Sea,” Lapan told reporters in the Pentagon today.

Two Iranian warships entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea in February on their way to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time since 1979, to reach Syria. Israel condemned the move, calling it a “provocation” that was part of Iran’s struggle for “hegemony and control” of the Middle East.

In March, the head of Iran’s Navy, Commander Habibollah Sayari, said his forces planned to expand their operational zone beyond the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, according to a separate Fars report today.

Iran needs to “turn into a regional power in terms of military defense and has to prove its might and capability not only in but also outside the region,” Sayari said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net