Iran warns of missile power as US parks amphibious strike group near its shores
Published: Jul 27, 2023 08:03 PM
The Pentagon announced last week that it would deploy additional warships and a Marine expeditionary group to the Persian Gulf to "deter" Iran following a spate of tanker seizure incidents. Tehran has warned that the presence of non-Persian Gulf adjacent states' militaries in the strategic body of water would not facilitate regional security.

Commanders from Iran's Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have commented on the US's decision to beef up its presence in the Persian Gulf, and warned that the Islamic Republic will take measures necessary to protect itself.

"Considering the control and capabilities of its Armed Forces in regard to navigation and aviation security in the Persian Gulf region, Iran reserves the right to make the necessary deterrent arrangements in compliance with the rules and regulations of international law, and will exercise its inalienable rights accordingly," Army Commander-in-Chief Abdolrahim Mousavi said Monday, speaking on the sidelines of a major aerial drill, commenting on the Pentagon's plans to deploy warships to the Gulf.

"The Americans have come and gone from the region for many years with their bogus illusions, but the security of the region will become sustainable only with cooperation among regional countries," Mousavi stressed.

Separately, at a ceremony on Tuesday related to the delivery of a new advanced naval cruise missile to the IRGC Navy, Commander Alireza Tangsiri said that enemy vessels will be forced to stay thousands of kilometers away to avoid finding themselves in the missile's crosshairs.

"We can fire the Abu Mahdi missile from deep inside the country. The missile has a dual seeker and performs successfully against the enemy's electronic warfare," Tangsiri said.

Iran characterizes the Abu Mahdi as "among the best missiles of its class in the world in terms of targeting, high destructive power, and passage through geographical obstacles and enemy defense systems," and says the missile, which has a range of over 1,000 km, will dramatically increase the country's maritime reach.

"Since the missile has a very low flight ceiling and a very long range, it can hardly be tracked," Commander Tangsiri said.

The new missile is named after Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the late Iraqi militia commander who was slain in a US assassination strike in Baghdad in January 2020 alongside IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who was on a secret peace mission in the country aimed at normalizing relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Gulf Tensions

Tensions in the Persian Gulf surged earlier this month after the US announced the deployment of F-16 fighter jets and A-10 ground attack aircraft to patrol the strategic body of water after a string of ship seizures by Iran for maritime traffic violations and attempted oil smuggling.

Last Thursday, the Pentagon announced the deployment of two amphibious warships and thousands of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Gulf on Defense Secretary Austin's orders.

"Through these actions, the United States is demonstrating commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation and deterring Iranian destabilization activities in the region," the Pentagon said in a statement, using the same 'freedom of navigation' line it uses to justify the illegal deployment of warships, aircraft and troops thousands of miles from America's shores to Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea.

Last week, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani emphasized that "Iran monitors with sensitivity any illegal and unconstructive act that affects the security of the region," and would "pay special attention to any provocative and illegal moves, especially near its borders."

Iran has one of the largest and most technologically advanced militaries in the Middle East, and is equipped with an assortment of domestically-designed and manufactured missiles, warships, and air defense systems designed specifically for asymmetric warfare against a much larger and more powerful foe. The country has demonstrated repeatedly in recent years that it will not tolerate violations of its air and sea space, knocking a $220 million US spy drone out of the sky over the Strait of Hormuz in June 2019.

The Persian Gulf is one of the most strategically important bodies of water in the world, with ship-based oil cargoes accounting for approximately 20-30 percent of consumption passing through its waters daily.