Iran’s navy chief: Major building program underway

Iran’s navy chief: Major building program underway

Admiral tells cadets that submarines, destroyers being constructed locally, as Tehran continues aggressive rhetoric

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: An Iranian navy vessel launches a missile during a drill in the Sea of Oman, in January 2012. (AP/ISNA, Amir Kholousi)
Illustrative: An Iranian navy vessel launches a missile during a drill in the Sea of Oman, in January 2012. (AP/ISNA, Amir Kholousi)

Amid escalating rhetoric from Tehran, Iran’s Navy chief indicated Thursday that a major naval building program is underway.

“Different torpedo-launcher missiles, destroyers and submarines have been built or are being constructed by the Navy,” Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told navy cadets in the northern city of Anzali, according to Fars news agency.

The statement follows a number of signs over the past year that Iran is upgrading its navy as part of a program of military self-sufficiency, which could threaten American ships patrolling the Persian Gulf. Its navy maintains a presence in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Caspian Sea, and other bodies of water.

In December, semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA reported that Iran intends to deploy its first domestically built submarine model by March 20, 2014, the end of the Iranian calendar year.

According to the report, the vessel, dubbed “Fateh”, weighs 120 tons – small for a submarine – “has excellent shallow depth performance and can conduct prolonged coastal missions and launch torpedoes.”

In September, Tehran deployed a Russian-made submarine in the Persian Gulf, one of the three Kilo-class submarines that Iran obtained in the early 1990s. A second submarine was refurbished and redeployed in May 2013.

Also December, Iran redeployed two warships after refitting them with new anti-ship missiles.

IRNA said the missile boats Neizeh and Tabarzin were equipped with Ghader and Noor anti-ship missile systems, with ranges of 200 kilometers (120 miles) and 120 kilometers (70 miles) respectively.

Iranian navy frigate IS Alvand passing through Egypt's Suez Canal in February 2011 (photo credit: AP file photo)
Iranian navy frigate IS Alvand passing through Egypt’s Suez Canal in February 2011 (photo credit: AP file photo)

The navy building program comes as Iranian leaders have unleashed a series of warnings against the US and the West.

On Wednesday. Iran’s chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi warned the Islamic republic’s foes that Iran is prepared for a “decisive battle” if attacked.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the West should not have any delusions about using a military option.

“I say explicitly, if some have delusions of having any threats against Iran on their tables, they need to wear new glasses. There is no military option against Iran on any table in the world,” he said.

On Sunday, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Commander Ali Fadavi said the US knows that its aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf would be sunk if it launched a military strike on Iran.

“The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea,” said Fadavi, according to Fars news agency.

“They cannot hide themselves in the sea since the entire Middle East region, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are monitored by us and there is no place for them to hide.”

Also Sunday, Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan touted the Iranian military’s ability to respond to an American attack, Fars reported.

Last week, Iranian state TV ran a documentary featuring a computerized video of Iran’s drones and missiles bombing Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ben-Gurion Airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor in a simulated retaliation for a hypothetical Israeli or American strike on the Islamic Republic.

Iran is due to resume talks on Monday in Vienna with the P5+1 — Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany — aimed at reaching a comprehensive nuclear accord following a landmark interim agreement struck in November.

Western nations have long suspected Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, allegations denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, if diplomacy fails.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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