The head of Iran’s armed forces said that the Islamic Republic seeks to have a “mighty presence” in Latin America in order to assert its naval power, the Tasnim news agency reported on Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi told reporters in the port city of Bandar Abbas that Iran plans to modernize its navy in the new Iranian year, which began on March 20. One of the goals of the modernization is to allow Iran’s navy to travel further and “take bigger steps” during voyages. It will also enable Iran to carry out joint operations with allies in other regions.
Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran’s navy, said in February that Iran sought a “constant” presence in international waters, and that the world had acknowledged Iran’s navy as a “power,” according to Tasnim. This recognition required an upgrade of the naval force, Sayyari said.
Iran has previously used its navy as a means of challenging the United States. During naval exercises in February, forces from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps destroyed a mock American aircraft carrier and broadcast the scene on state television.
IRGC Navy Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi also declared in May 2014 that his troops were preparing to sink American aircraft carriers. The following month, he warned the U.S. to leave the Persian Gulf, saying, “Americans removal from the Gulf is one of the basic tasks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” and boasting that Iran could destroy the American fleet in 50 seconds.
Late last year, an Iranian ship fired rockets near the USS Harry S Truman in an incident that the U.S. described as “highly provocative.”
Two weeks later, Iran seized two U.S. Navy boats and ten sailors after they entered Iranian territorial waters. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the Iranian troops who captured the sailors, saying that they did “God’s deed,” and subsequently gave medals to the commanders in charge of the capture. Afterwards, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called the incident “inconsistent with international law.”
Fadavi later boasted that Iran had retrieved “extensive information” from the sailors’ laptops and GPS devices. Iran announced that it would build a statue to commemorate that capture of the sailors last month.
[Photo: teleSURtv / YouTube ]