The U.S. national security community is monitoring two Iranian naval vessels whose ultimate destination may be Venezuela, according to three people familiar with the situation, in what would be a provocative move at a tense moment in U.S.-Iran relations.
According to Politico, an Iranian frigate and the Makran, a former oil tanker that was converted to a floating forward staging base, have been heading south along the east coast of Africa, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject.
U.S. officials do not know for sure the destination of the Iranian ships, these officials said, but believe they may be ultimately headed for Venezuela.
Iranian media says the 755-foot long Makran, which was commissioned this year, can serve as a platform for electronic warfare and special operations missions.
A spokesperson for the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry declined to comment. A spokesperson at the Iranian Mission to the U.N. declined to comment. And White House and Pentagon spokespersons declined to comment.