As tensions in the Middle East begin to escalate, Iran has announced that its navy has launched a stealth destroyer.
According to Reuter’s, on Saturday Dec. 1, Iran’s navy launched a domestically produced destroyer, which Iran’s state media claims has “stealth,” or radar-evading properties. In a ceremony that was carried live on state television, the Sahand destroyer — which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply — joined Iran’s regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf.
The impressive ship was launched as tensions between Iran and the US are increasing. Trump put the brakes on the Obama era nuclear deal, and pulled out of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, and has since reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said that the Obama engineered 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.
More Details On Iran’s New Warship
According to the state press release, “The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities.” How much of that is to be believed is anyone’s guess, but surely US intelligence has a handle on the true capabilities of the warship.
In any case, Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheik, head of the navy shipyards that built the destroyer, told the state news agency IRNA, that, “This vessel is the result of daring and creative design relying on the local technical knowledge of the Iranian Navy… and has been built with stealth capabilities.”
As a result of international sanctions that prevent weapon sales, and weaponry related technology transfers to Iran, the country has had to develop a large domestic arms industry. In 2010 Iran launched its first locally made destroyer as part of a program to revamp its navy equipment, which dates from before the 1979 Islamic revolution and was mostly purchased from the US under military contracts with the Shah.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that Iran should increase its military capability and readiness to ward off enemies, such as the US. Top military strategists believe that in the wake of a curtailed nuclear program, Iran may be seeking to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future, to give them greater power in the region.
The United States has said its goal is to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. Senior Iranian officials have said that if Iran is not allowed to export oil, then it would see that no other countries would be allowed to export oil through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf. A build-up of their navy, and bases in Yemen or Syria, would be the first step in being able to accomplish that kind of a blockade.
Should Iran take the desperate step of shutting down all traffic of oil tankers through the Strait, it could have a major impact on the markets and the world economy, a move that President Trump isn’t likely to take lightly.
Neither the White House nor the Department of Defense has issued any statement in reaction to the launch.