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Iranian navy launches stealth warship in the Gulf

Updated December 02, 2018

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The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns. — AFP/File
The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns. — AFP/File

DUBAI: Iran’s navy on Saturday launched a domestically made destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties, as tensions rise with arch-enemy, the United States.

In a ceremony 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 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, state television reported.

“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,” Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheikhi, head of the navy shipyards that built the destroyer, told the state news agency IRNA.

Iran launched its first locally made destroyer in 2010 as part of a programme to revamp its navy equipment which dates from before the 1979 Islamic revolution and is mostly US-made.

Separately, a naval commander said Sahand may be among warships that Iran plans to send on a mission to Venezuela soon. “Among our plans in the near future is to send two or three vessels with special helicopters to Venezuela in South America on a mission that could last five months,” Iran’s deputy navy commander, Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani Moqaddam, told the semi-official news agency Mehr.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week Iran should increase its military capability and readiness to ward off enemies, in a meeting with Iranian navy commanders.

Our correspondent adds: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced on Saturday that Iran had test-fired a medium range ballistic missile. “The Iranian regime has just test-fired a medium range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying multiple warheads. The missile has a range that allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East,” he said in a statement issued by his office.

Pompeo claimed that the test violates a UN Security Council resolution that bans Iran from undertaking “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches such as ballistic missile technology”.

Pompeo plays a key role in the Trump administration’s Iran policy, which seeks to minimise Tehran’s growing influence in the Middle East.

The Trump administration, which withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal that its predecessors signed with Iran, has also reimposed economic sanctions against the Islamic republic.

“Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing. We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence,” Pompeo warned. “We … call upon Iran to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapon.”

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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