Iran’s naval fleet will continue its presence on the high seas to protect the country’s interests, Iranian Army’s Deputy Commander for Operations Rear Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi said, cited by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on November 18th.
“So long as the presence of the Iranian Army’s fleets is necessary to secure Iran’s interests, the dispatch of the fleets to the high seas will continue,” he said.
He also said that Iran has a strong navy, which should maintain a presence in the high seas, otherwise others would take advantage of its absence. He also claimed that the Islamic Republic plans to dispatch its fleets to the Atlantic Ocean in case of necessity as it has done in the past.
The first time an Iranian naval fleet entered the Atlantic Ocean happened in November 2016, after a port call in South Africa.
Iran’s navy also increased its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for merchant vessels and tankers. The navy conducts regular patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, guarding merchant containers and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran or other countries, in accordance with international efforts against piracy.
Moussavi also claimed that Iran has managed to make “great achievements” since the victory of the Islamic Revolution despite “cruel sanctions,” emphasizing that “sanctions have never succeeded in preventing our defensive progress.”
He also vowed that the Iranian Armed Forces would continue updating their defense technologies and equipment. He claimed that the Islamic Republic had made significant progress in its defense sector and had presumably attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and hardware.
On November 12th, Moussavi also said that Iran’s armed forces will protect Iranian oil tankers against any threats.
“Iran’s armed forces…are prepared today as in the past to protect our fleet of oil tankers against any threats so that it can continue to use marine waterways,” the Rear-Admiral said.
His words were a response to US claiming that the Iranian ships are a “floating liability” and warned port operators to not allow them to dock. US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook also claimed that Iranian vessels would lose access to international insurance markets under the US sanctions, thus being a risk to ports and canals which allowed them access.
Hook also mentioned that countries and port operations might face repercussions if they facilitate “Iran’s illicit activities.”
Mousavi said that creating hindrances to transportation through international waterways would be unacceptable.
“Iran’s armed forces have the preparedness to protect our commercial fleet…as they have in the past 40 years,” he said.
Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, said Tehran would file a complaint next week to the International Maritime Organization over “cruel U.S. sanctions and restrictions on maritime transport.”
There have also been continuous reports of National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessels that turn off their transponders to attempt and sail hidden from the US. Reports have been coming in since August 2018, when Reuters reported that Chinese buyers of Iranian oil are starting to shift their cargoes to vessels owned by NITC. China also received a waiver from the newly-imposed US sanctions that target the Islamic Republic’s energy sector and oil exports.