New cruise missile sub in Iran fleet
DUBAI, Feb 17, (Agencies): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated a new domestically-built submarine armed with cruise missiles at a time of rising tensions with its archenemy the United States.
“From this moment, the Fateh Submarine joins Iran’s naval force with my order,” Rouhani said in a ceremony broadcast live on the state-run English-language Press TV. The Fateh “Conqueror” submarine weighs 600 tonnes, Press TV said, adding that it “enjoys state-ofthe- art weaponry, including torpedoes, naval mines and cruise missiles that could be launched from a submerged position”.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six powers last May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international pressure and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons. “Our defence power is solely defensive … Our enemy’s pressure and sanctions imposed on Iran have instigated our progress,” Rouhani said in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas. Last year, Iran’s navy launched a domestically-built destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties.
Iran says it has missiles with the range of up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles), which puts Israel and US military bases in the region within reach. The European signatories of Iran’s nuclear deal, despite remaining committed to the pact, have stepped up criticism of Iran’s ballistic missiles program.
Iran is ready to work with all of its neighbours to secure peace in the Middle East in the face of US and Israeli aggression, Rouhani said on Sunday, in his latest attempt to weaken ties between regional rival Saudi Arabia and America.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting proxy wars for years, backing opposing sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen. But pressure is building on Tehran after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions.
Saudi Arabia welcomed the move. “Iran is ready to work with regional states to preserve security in the Middle East,” Rouhani said in a public speech in the southern Hormozgan province, broadcast live on state TV. “We want to establish brotherly ties with all countries of the region … Iran has never started any aggression in the region.”
“Those regional states that believe Israel and America can establish security are wrong. We, the Muslims, should ensure the regional security,” Rouhani said, to chants of “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel”. Rouhani’s previous overtures to Saudi Arabia, such as after his election in 2013 and efforts by his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in 2017, have had no success, and some analysts were sceptical his latest attempt would be different. “Considering the ongoing hostility, there is no possibility of a dialogue between the arch enemies,” said Tehran-based analyst Hamid Farahvashian. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its actions and those of the United States were increasing the chances of a clash in the region. Addressing the Munich Security Conference, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also criticised the US administration after Vice-President Mike Pence this week called on European powers to pullout of the nuclear deal with Iran.
Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save that accord. “Certainly, some people are looking for war… Israel,” Zarif said. “The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law.” Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif criticised European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behaviour in the region. “Israeli behaviour is putting international law on the shelf, US behaviour is putting international law on the shelf,” he said.
Speaking to his cabinet on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iranian belligerence was the main destabilising factor in the entire Middle East. “We must deny Iran nuclear weaponry and block its military entrenchment in Syria. We will continue taking constant action to ensure Israel’s security,” he said in remarks broadcast on Israeli media.
Vice-President Pence on Friday accused Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism, maintaining his harsh rhetoric against Tehran just a day he attacked European powers for trying to undermine US sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Zarif said the US had an “unhealthy” and “pathological obsession” with Iran and accused Pence of trying to bully his allies. “All in the name of containing Iran, the US claims, and some blindly parrot, that it is Iran that is interfering in the region, but has it been asked whose region?” Zarif said. “Look at the map, the US military has travelled 10,000 km to dot all our borders with its bases.
There is a joke that it is Iran that put itself in the middle of US bases.” Zarif, who said Iran was committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord. Europeans need to do more than talk if they want to preserve a deal meant to keep Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States, Zarif said Sunday, slamming Washington as the “biggest source of destabilization” in the Middle East.