Iran will send its warships to Antarctica, Iranian media announced on Saturday. In response, the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post stated that “Tehran is trying to show that it is capable of developing naval power away from home,” but “it has a small navy” anyway.
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According to the Iranian pro-regime media Tasnim, the nation plans to send parts of its navy to Antarctica in the “near future.”
Although the Tasnim story did not go into great detail, it did mention that Iran has had this as a goal for a long time. As reports from 2012 indicate. Recently, Iran deployed two ships on a lengthy voyage around the globe which traveled to Brazil and other nations.
A few days ago, the Iranian ships of the 86th Fleet, which left on an around-the-world voyage last autumn, returned to their home ports. They covered 51,000 kilometers, breaking the record for the distance an Iranian flotilla has ever sailed in international waters.
Nevertheless, the real power of these navy trips is largely symbolic, as the official Iran navy is small.
The purpose of the expedition, Israeli media suggest, was to test the Iranian ships in the cold waters of the South Atlantic.
Iranian state media straightforwardly write that it is a preparation for a polar mission. “The presence in Antarctica is important from various scientific, legal and political, geostrategic and economic aspects, and the region will be a major issue in the international arena in the future,” Abolfazl Saleh, head of the Marine Science Research Institute at Iran’s National Institute of Oceanography, said.
The news agency added that the establishment of a permanent base by the Islamic Republic of Iran at the South Pole to enhance the country’s strategic position has been of great interest to the authorities in recent years.
Covering 14 million square kilometers, Antarctica is one of the most important strategic regions in the world, with 30 countries having 70 research centers there. The continent is rich in deposits of oil, coal, iron, copper, silver and many other raw materials.
Perhaps a more dangerous and threatening naval element than the Iranian Navy’s fleet is that of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Its units, as recalled by the Israeli newspaper, constantly harass foreign ships in the Persian Gulf in an attempt to undermine the U.S. presence in this area.