Tehran has seen ties with Washington deteriorate since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, shortly after which the US Embassy was taken hostage for 444 days. Tension remains high between the two states following former US President Donald Trump withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The latest comes as a US-based publication entitled The 19FortyFive suggests Iranian naval capabilities are more of a threat than once believed. It also highlighted the threat posed by Iran’s underwater defences. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was also mentioned in the piece, suggesting the military unit had “greatly expanded” in recent years.
Concerns have also been raised in the US at the evolving Iranian ballistic nuclear programme, something which Iran reiterates is for deterrent and defensive purposes only.
Iran has largely had to remain self-sufficient in producing military defence equipment in light of tough economic sanctions imposed on the country by the US. Many of Iran’s military units rely on indigenously made equipment such as submarines, drones, missiles and aircraft.
Iran has raised concerns about the growing presence of US military assets in the Gulf. Tension reached a peak between the two nations in 2020 when a US drone assassinated top Iranian commander Lt Gen Ghasem Soleimani. Iran responded by sending a volley of missiles at US bases in Iraq. In an attempt to rekindle diplomatic ties, current US President Joe Biden has vowed to return to the JCPOA. However, talks in Vienna between other signatory members and Iran have stalled over terms and conditions not being met, including the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.
Iran has long stated it wishes to promote peace in the Gulf region, stating relations with neighbours is paramount to insuring peace.
With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar due to take place in the region towards the end of the year, focus on security will be a high priority in the region. Reports from Doha suggest up to 500,000 extra visitors per day could be present in the tiny Gulf peninsula during the world cup.
Increased focus will concentrate on shipping lanes in the Gulf, which currently see 21 million barrels of oil pass through the Straits of Hormuz on a daily basis. Experts have long feared Iran could close the tight shipping lane, sparking an unprecedented oil crisis. Iran on the other hand has offered its natural gas to Europe in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, yet the logistical infrastructure currently enjoyed between Russia and Europe does not yet exist between Iran and the West.