Naval mission to the Atlantic increases Iran’s strategic depth: admiral

June 13, 2021 - 22:16

TEHRAN - Iran’s “strategic depth” in the sea has increased, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari has said in a commentary published on Sunday.

The comments by Sayyari, the deputy Army chief for coordination affairs, comes as an Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean on a rare mission far from Iran.

In his commentary Sayyari said the Iranian naval fleet has entered the Atlantic Ocean without requesting access to a foreign port to show “its powerful presence in open seas in accordance with international maritime rules.”

The naval mission is being carried out by the vessel Makran and the destroyer Sahand, which is “completely manufactured” by Iran.

“The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran had succeeded to send its naval fleet to distant waters including the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean. And now is able to materialize the promise of presence in the Atlantic Ocean, a move that is considered a new chapter for presence in open and distant seas,” the deputy Army chief remarked.

Through its powerful presence in open seas thousands of kilometers away from domestic coasts Iran once again “reminded that it is able to meet its need and conduct difficult maritime missions,” the admiral noted.

In addition, Iran showed that it is able to guard security of economy in the sea, he said, adding Iran also proved that through presence in distant waters it helps promote national diplomacy and create an opportunity for exchange of knowledge and information between maritime forces across the world.

The admiral said the naval mission has increased the “strategic depth” of Iran and also brought “dignity for our dear country.”

“However, like always we insist that such measures and moves not only are not a threat to any country but also they can help protect the security of countries, (prove) beneficial, and in line with the campaign against maritime terrorism and maritime rescue operations,” the top commander noted.

The fact the certain countries with colonial history which through their “useless presence” in other regions cause intensification of tensions and arms race express concern about Iran’s presence in open seas, show that the decision by the Iranian army is correct and that Iran’s presence in open seas sends “message of peace and friendship” to the world. 

In a commentary on Thursday, Foreign Policy said the United States cannot take action under international law against two Iranian ships on voyage toward the North Atlantic Ocean even if the vessels are violating U.S. sanctions.

Citing three people familiar with the situation, the American news website said the vessels have been heading south along the east coast of Africa.

Foreign Policy argued that any U.S. action against the vessels would be unlawful and undermine sovereign immunity as a core tenet of international order.

“The costs of direct action would be severe, exposing the United States to charges of hypocrisy toward the rules-based order and potentially opening U.S. naval vessels to similar treatment by adversaries,” the American news publication said, arguing that the United States should “employ diplomacy rather than force” and encourage states along the route to deny the Iranian vessels port access if requested.

It added that in times of peace, sovereign immunity is a practically all-powerful ward against a foreign state’s jurisdiction, with exceptions only in extreme circumstances involving failed states, fake warships, or weapons of mass destruction. “This case, however, is textbook.”

While Tehran has not commented on the ships’ destination nor their cargo, it has pointed out that there is no ban on Iran’s sale of weapons to other countries under UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

“America has long tried to get the resolution violated [by others], but to no avail,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a press conference on Tuesday, making a reference to Washington’s failed attempts last year to keep a 13-year-old arms embargo on Iran, which finally expired on October 18.

“Iran reserves the right to enjoy normal trade ties in the framework of international law and regulations, and considers any interference and monitoring of these relations as illegal and insulting, and strongly condemns it,” Press TV quoted Rabiei as saying.

On Thursday, Politico said the U.S. has been monitoring Iranian Navy ships that are making their way across the Atlantic Ocean, potentially for a weapons delivery to Venezuela. The Biden administration is pressuring the Venezuelan and Cuban governments to turn away the Iranian ships, and a senior administration official warned that the U.S. will take “appropriate measures in coordination with our partners to deter the transit or delivery of such weapons.”

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