Iran is set to send its warships to the Gulf of Mexico in a bid to establish itself as a global military power.
The audacious move has been announced by the Islamic theocracy’s new naval commander, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi.
Khanzadi also said he intends to add submarines to the Iranian fleet’s ranks, in moves that could give the US cause to fear a new cold war with the Middle Eastern power.
The semi-official news agency Tasnim reported: ‘Speaking in his first press conference after taking the office, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said Iran’s naval forces will soon go to the Atlantic Ocean, visit some South American countries, and wave the Iranian flag in the Gulf of Mexico.’
Tasnim also reported that the navy’s Separ missile-launching corvette will head to the Caspian Sea next week, where Khanzadi said Iran is hoping to spread peace.
The navy will launch its own airport in the city of Jask, right on the Gulf of Oman and guarding the entrance to the much-contested Persian Gulf, which Iran traditionally sees as its possession.
In November of last year, an Iranian fleet sailed around Africa and entered the Atlantic Ocean.
Tamsin claims these moves are ‘aimed at demonstrating the naval power and extending a message of peace and friendship’.
Earlier this month, Caspian News reported that one of the force’s outgoing admirals, Habibollah Sayyari, said: ‘Sailing in open waters between Europe and Americas should be the navy’s goal, which will be realized in the near future.’
In November last year, the Iranian chief of staff of the armed forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, asked: ‘Is having naval bases in faraway places any less [significant] than nuclear technology? I say it’s ten times more [important].’
He added that such a move would act as a deterrent against the country’s enemies.
The US and Iran have been foes since the latter’s 1979 theocratic coup, in which clerics took charge of the country and defined themselves by their antagonism towards liberalism and fidelity to Islam.
Iran is also the sole major Shiite Islamic power in the Middle East, and is engaged in a struggle for dominance with US Sunni allies such as Saudi Arabia.
The country has long been accused of supporting terrorists and has propped up the Assad regime in Syria.
It has also supported anti-Semitic terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to scrap a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which claims its program is peaceful and not intended to threaten its neighbors.
But Iran, which has strong ties with Russia, has come out of recent struggles in the Middle East – particularly the Syrian Civil War and the aftermath of the US pulling out of Iraq – looking strong.
According to Newsweek, Iran said in 2014 it would send ships to the Gulf of Mexico to protest America’s presence in the Persian Gulf.
Before then, the theocracy had offered to send help after the BP oil spill in 2010.