Iran has reinforced its aspirations to transform its navy into a blue water force that is capable of establishing its presence off the coast of the United States in the next few years.

Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the country’s naval chief, told state television on Tuesday that Iran would deploy warships in “international waters” near the U.S. coastline — a remark that was apparently meant as an equaliser to the current positioning of the cluster of American warships off the coast of Iran.

“The presence of the U.S. warships in the free waters of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman is in accordance with international law and we have not allowed the U.S. to enter our territorial waters,” said the Iranian commander

Admiral Sayyari went to say that the Iranian navy was steadily expanding its international presence. “Today the presence of Iran’s Navy extends from the Persian Gulf to the north of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb,” he said as quoted by the Tehran based Press TV. Last year, Iranian warships had for the first time entered the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.

Admiral Sayyari’s assertions seemed timed with the exercises that the U.S. navy plans to conduct in the Persian Gulf later this month. Eleven countries are expected to participate in the de-mining exercise, which is apparently being conducted to ward-off the closure of the Strait of Hormuz as threatened earlier by Iran. Nearly 40 per cent of the world’s oil supplies pass through the Strait of Hormuz, which links the strategic Persian Gulf with the Sea of Oman.

Unwilling to yield an inch in the war of words that engages the two countries,The Iranian commander also stressed that his country’s navy was maintaining full surveillance over U.S. warships that were present in the Persian Gulf.

“We monitor all the movements of U.S. warships and have intelligence command over their activities,” he said.

Buoyed by the recent gathering of 120 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) — widely seen as blow to the American attempts to isolate Iran — the Iranians have stepped up the rhetoric of home-grown military advancements.

A senior officer of Iran’s air defence command is claiming that Iran is developing a surface-to-air missile superior to the “game changing” Russian built S-300. Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said on Monday that more than 30 per cent of the work on the missile named Bavar (Belief) had been completed.

“We have no problems and all tasks regarding the radar system, the detection system and the type of interception have been completed,” he observed.

Separately, the Iranians are set to take over from the Russians, the running of their first nuclear plant in the coastal city of Bushehr.

Iranian media is quoting Igor Mezenin, the local representative of the Russian contractor of the atomic plant that Iranians would take control of the 1000 MW power unit “in the last week of December”. The reactor at the facility achieved its full capacity on August 31.

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