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Iran says it’s making plans a naval base in Antarctica

Iran is planning to build a naval base at the South Pole, its naval chief said on Thursday.

“Our plan in the future is to raise the proud flag of Iran in Antarctica,” navy chief Adm Shahram Irani said during Iran’s “sacred defence” week.

Tehran hopes to conduct “military and scientific” work at the South Pole, he added, addressing the 86th flotilla, which returned in June from voyages to prepare an Antarctic expedition.

In May, Iran said it hoped to send warships to Antarctica in the “near future” and had sent the flotilla on a round-the-world expedition to prepare for the mission.

Adm Irani said the flotilla “broke the hegemony of world powers”, state-run Irna reported.

The US earlier this year expressed concerns when Tehran sent warships to Brazil and said it would send ships to the Panama Canal.

“We have been present in all the strategic straits of the world, and we have not been present in only two straits – in one of which we will be present this year, and we are planning to be present in the Panama Canal,” Adm Irani said in January.

Adm Irani’s reference to two straits appears to be a comment on the Strait of Hormuz, and the Bab Al Mandab strait, both of which are among the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Iran has a heavy military presence in the Hormuz strait and has sent some ships, on a more limited basis, to the Bab Al Mandab, between Yemen and the African continent.

Tehran has also made efforts to shore up its military and economic alliances in South America and Africa as tensions with the West remain high.

In July, Iran and Venezuela signed a 20-year co-operation agreement, while Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian visited Nicaragua in February before heading to Caracas in Venezuela.

Iran has two navies, one belonging to the army and one belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Adm Irani’s comments come during a week of military parades commemorating the Iran-Iraq war, and a day after Tehran claimed it successfully launched an imaging satellite into orbit.

The Noor 3 imaging satellite was launched from an undisclosed site to 450km above the Earth’s surface.

The US believes Iran’s satellite programme can both advance its nuclear capabilities as well as provide cover for ballistic missile development, which requires much of the same technology as is used in satellites.

Updated: September 28, 2023, 1:36 PM


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