Iran Navy
Iranian naval vessels near the Strait of Hormuz, Jan. 3, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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A senior Iranian naval commander says his country has sent several warships to the Atlantic Ocean, close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time.

The commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, is quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Saturday that the vessels have already begun the journey to the Atlantic Ocean via waters near South Africa.

According to a report in semi-official news agency Fars, the admiral said that "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message."

Haddad says the fleet is approaching U.S. maritime borders for the first time. The Islamic Republic considers the move as a response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines.  

Iranian officials said last month that the fleet consisted of a destroyer and a logistic helicopter carrier, which will be on a three-month mission.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday the U.S. would overthrow the Iranian government if it could, adding Washington had a "controlling and meddlesome" attitude towards the Islamic Republic, Iranian media reported.

In a speech to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, he added that officials seeking to revive the economy should not rely on an eventual lifting of sanctions but rather on home-grown innovation.

"American officials publicly say they do not seek regime change in Iran. That's a lie. They wouldn't hesitate a moment if they could do it," he was quoted as saying by Fars.

Khamenei made no mention of talks between Iran and world powers intended to settle a decade-old dispute about the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.