For only the second time in history, warships of the Islamic Republic of Iran sailed on Friday through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, CNN and the BBC reported.[1,2] -- The Tehran Times reported that the destroyer Shahid Qandi and the supply ship Kharg constitute the "18th fleet" of the Iranian navy. -- "'As the Navy affected the region with its presence in the Mediterranean Sea last year, the Navy’s 18th fleet will in the best way carry the message of peace and friendship to regional countries and display the might of the country and the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran,' Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said during a meeting with a number of Navy commanders and personnel. The naval fleet will prove that enemies’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic have neither hindered Iran’s scientific progress nor decreased the country’s military capability, he said." ...
IRANIAN WARSHIPS SAIL INTO THE MEDITERRANEAN
February 18, 2012
Two Iranian warships sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported Saturday, amid heightened tensions in the region.
The move represents only the second time such ships have crossed the Suez Canal since the Islamic republic's 1979 revolution.
The first time took place in February 2011, just days after Egypt's post-Hosni Mubarak government gave the green light to the passage -- putting Egypt's new military leaders in a prickly position with its Israeli neighbor.
"As the Navy affected the region with its presence in the Mediterranean Sea last year, the Navy's 18th fleet will in the best way carry the message of peace and friendship to regional countries, and display the might of the country and the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, according to Mehr.
It was not clear from the report where the two vessels, a destroyer and a supply ship, were headed.
The canal is an internal body of water, and as such, Egypt has sovereignty over it. But Egypt also is bound by the 1978 Camp David Accords, which guarantee the right of free passage by ships belonging to Israel and all other nations on the basis of the Constantinople Convention of 1888.
The warships' reported movement comes as tensions between Iran and Israel are high, with speculation of a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran to stop its suspected nuclear weapons program. Israel has also blamed Tehran for attacks on Israeli targets in India, Georgia, and Thailand.
The United States and the European Union bolstered sanctions against Iran after a November report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said Iran could be developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is strictly for civilian energy purposes.
On Friday, Western nations welcomed a letter from Iran offering a resumption of stalled nuclear talks, though they were still determining the Islamic republic's sincerity.
The Suez Canal is a key waterway for international trade. It connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, allowing ships to navigate between Europe and Asia without having to go around Africa. Millions of barrels of oil move through the Suez every day en route to Europe and North America.
IRAN WARSHIPS ENTER MEDITERRANEAN VIA SUEZ CANAL
February 18, 2012
Iranian warships have entered the Mediterranean Sea for only the second time since the 1979 revolution.
The destroyer Shahid Qandi and its supply vessel Kharg have passed through the Suez Canal but their destination remains unclear.
Navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari told the Irna agency the mission was a show of might and a "message of peace".
Two Iranian navy vessels entered the Mediterranean in February last year. Israel called it a "provocation."
Admiral Sayari was quoted by Irna as saying: "The strategic navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed through the Suez Canal for the second time since the Islamic Revolution."
The mission conveyed "the might" of Iran to regional countries and Tehran's "message of peace and friendship."
The ships were reported to have docked earlier at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Reuters quoted a source at the Suez Canal authority as saying the vessels might be en route to Syria.
The mission comes amid heightened tension between Iran and Israel.
Iran has recently announced developments in its nuclear programme, prompting some speculation Israel may launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Israel has also blamed Iran for recent attacks on Israeli targets in Georgia and India, an accusation Tehran denies.
IRANIAN NAVAL SHIPS CROSS SUEZ CANAL INTO MEDITERRANEAN SEA
Febraury 18, 2012
Iranian Navy’s 18th fleet of warships, comprised of a destroyer and a supply ship, has sailed through Egypt’s Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, the Navy commander announced on Saturday.
“As the Navy affected the region with its presence in the Mediterranean Sea last year, the Navy’s 18th fleet will in the best way carry the message of peace and friendship to regional countries and display the might of the country and the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said during a meeting with a number of Navy commanders and personnel.
The naval fleet will prove that enemies’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic have neither hindered Iran’s scientific progress nor decreased the country’s military capability, he said.
Sayyari added that one of the goals of the mission is to provide training to students of the Imam Khomeini Naval Academy, which is located on the Caspian Sea in Noshahr, Mazandaran Province.
Reuters also reported on Saturday that two Iranian ships crossed through the Suez Canal on Thursday following permission from the Egyptian armed forces.
It is the second time that an Iranian naval fleet has entered the Mediterranean Sea since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Two Iranian warships passed through the strategic waterway on February 17 last year and docked in Syria after sailing across the Mediterranean Sea.
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