Tehran is preparing to send a flotilla of Iranian warships to the western Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Iran, the Free Beacon reports.
With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by over half a billion dollars (it was unclear if the cash is from the ransom paid by Obama to free several US hostages one year ago). This is at least the second recent cash infusion to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash. As BBC adds, Iranian lawmakers shouted “death to America” as they voted; the new measure proposes that the government allocates an additional $260MM for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the official state news agency Irna said.
Iran said the funding for its missile defence was “not in violation” of a 2015 nuclear deal
Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said the move was meant to counter Washington’s “terrorist and adventurist activities” in the Middle East, AFP news agency reports. The 27-point bill will also impose sanctions on US military and intelligence officials in the region.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.
“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”
And with the funding procured, Iran wasted no time in delineating plans on how to spend it. Speaking at a military cereomny in Tehran, Real Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said American commanders should not underestimate the capabilities of the Iranian Navy, promising to let his fleet set sail for the western part of the Atlantic in the near future. “No military official in the world thought that we can go around Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal, but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its western waters,” the admiral was quoted by Iranian media over the weekend.
Iranian destroyer Alborz
Sayyari also said that in a recent program on CNN US officials had tried to portray the Iranian Navy as weak and unable to operate over large distances: “[In a program aired] on CNN, they [the Americans] drew a line from Bandar Abbas [an Iranian seaport] to the Atlantic and said Iran is by no means is capable of entering the ocean and passing through it,” he added.
“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.
Sayyari has said previously that the redeployment of Iranian Navy forces to the Atlantic was one of his priorities. “Redeployment in the Atlantic Ocean, intelligence superiority, development of communications, progress in the development of the Makran coast and building new vessels are among the navy’s plans this year,” Fars quoted Sayyari in April.
In recent years, Iran’s Navy has been increasing its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for trade vessels and tankers. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly asserted that its overseas naval presence is meant to convey a message of peace and friendship to other countries. Iranian officials and commanders have repeatedly underlined that all military exercises and trainings of the Iranian Armed Forces are merely meant to serve deterrent purposes.