Kelly McLaughlin — Mail Online March 3, 2017
Iran could purchase warships, submarines and missiles as early as 2020, when a United Nations resolution banning them from acquiring sophisticated weapons is lifted, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence.
The resolution’s expiration will ‘allow Iran to pursue foreign acquisitions that have been inaccessible since sanctions were imposed’, according to a new assessment of Iran’s naval forces.
The weapons ban will be lifted in 2020 as part of an international deal struck in July 2015 between the United States, five allies and Iran in hopes of curtailing the country’s nuclear program.
The new 44-page assessment of Iran’s naval strategy and capability, titled Iran’s Naval Forces: A Tale of Two Navies, was obtained by Bloomberg News and is an update of a 2009 publication.
The report describes Iran’s current military strategy as ‘ballistic missiles, naval forces, and proxies in the region.’
‘Each of these potentially provides the means to target Iran’s regional neighbors, or military forces based or operating in the region,’ the report said.
According to the publication, Iran is likely to continue to deploy weapons that its engineers have copied from foreign designs, including the ‘Hoot’ high-speed torpedo ‘and potentially a supersonic’ anti-ship cruise missile.
When the ban expires, ‘Iran may look to foreign acquisitions of ships and submarines with a wide array of weapons suites’, the publication said, suggesting that Iran has already entered negotiations with Russia to acquire a coastal defense cruise missile.
Iran’s Navy already operates 14 North Korean-designed Yonoclass midget submarines produced in Iran that can carry two heavyweight torpedoes, according to the report.
The report references two Iranian navies: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has been loyal to Iran’s religious leadership since 2007, and is responsible for boats in the Persian Gulf, and the conventional force operating outside of the Persian Gulf.
Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on January 29 that it was playing with fire and all US options were on the table.
Trump said last month that ‘Iran has been put formally put on notice’ for firing a ballistic missile, and later imposed new sanctions on Tehran.
In January, a US Navy destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels near the Strait of Hormuz after they closed in at high speed. The vessels belonged to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards which are not participating in the current war games.
The chief of the UN atomic watchdog will hold talks on Iran’s nuclear deal on Thursday for the first time with senior officials from the the administration of Trump, who has branded the it ‘the worst deal in history’.
The 2015 deal between Tehran and major powers placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The accord will be the main topic of Yukiya Amano’s talks in Washington, officials involved in the dealings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday.
Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has called for a ‘full review’ of the accord, is among the senior US officials Amano will meet, they said.
Amano, whose agency is in charge of policing those nuclear restrictions under the deal, has publicly argued in favour of the agreement, describing it as a ‘net gain’.
Trump’s administration has not directly said the United States will back out of the UN agreement.
During his nomination hearing, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the deal ‘is an imperfect arms control agreement – it’s not a friendship treaty’ but, ‘when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.