Iran’s navy has acquired two new mini submarines designed for operations in shallow waters such as the Persian Gulf, the Iranian state TV reported on Thursday.
The report said one of the mini submarines — also known as midget submarines — was dubbed Ghadir-955 and was built in 18 months. The other, a previously built Ghadir-942, took 10 months to overhaul.
The subs have sonar-evading technology and can launch missiles from under water, as well as fire torpedoes and drop marine mines, the TV said. Iran began manufacturing Ghadir subs in 2005. The first was unveiled in 2007 and by 2012, five such submarines were incorporated into Iran’s navy.
Midget submarines weigh less than 150 metric tons and are used for short missions, with no living accommodations for a crew of up to nine.
The TV broadcast footage of the inauguration of one the submarine in southern port of Bandar Abbas, at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.
At the ceremony, Adm. Mojtaba Mohammadi said the sub is the 14th Iran-made vessel that joined the navy.
Iran does not disclose the total number of submarines in its fleet, however, it is believed to have some 12 light and three Russian-made submarines.
Iran, which has been developing its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and fighter planes as a part of an arms development program initiative since 1992, often boasts of new achievements or acquisitions that cannot dependently verified.
The submarines’ announcement is likely intended to boost Iran’s military image amid rising tensions with the United States, which in November re-imposed all sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The Trump administration pulled America out from the deal in May.
Last month, a senior Iranian official said that the range of the country’s land-to-sea ballistic missile has been increased to 700 kilometers (435 miles).
“We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700 kilometers,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
In September, Iran’s defense ministry said it planned it improve the capabilities of its ballistic and cruise missiles.
“Increasing ballistic and cruise missile capacity … and the acquisition of new generation fighters and heavy and long-range vessels and submarines with various weapons capabilities are among the new plans of this ministry,” Mohammad Ahadi, Iran’s deputy defense minister for international affairs, said, according to a translation by Reuters.
In 2017, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered limits on the country’s ballistic missile program to 2,000 kilometers. That range would encompass much of the Middle East, including Israel and American bases in the region. However, such limits come as Iran routinely says its ballistic missile program is only for defensive purposes against regional adversaries.
Although there are no restrictions in place on the range of Iranian missiles, US President Donald Trump had insisted that limitations be placed on Tehran’s missile program, as a prerequisite for Washington remaining in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. He ultimately pulled out of it on May 12.
The US and its allies have been demanding that Iran curb its production of ballistic missiles, which can reach parts of Europe and could soon reach the US as well. Western officials have maintained that the only reason Tehran could have for manufacturing such missiles would be to fit them with non-conventional, including atomic, warheads.
Tehran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, insists that it sees the missile program as crucial to its defensive posture, and says its existence is non-negotiable.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which affirmed the Iran nuclear deal, called on Iran to refrain from developing missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Iran has maintained that it never intended to develop nuclear weapons and therefore its missile development does not violate the agreement.