Atul Aneja – The Hindu December 26, 2011
Growing in confidence after downing an American drone and aiming to deter the possibility of an attack by foreign powers, Iran has announced that it is on the threshold of major technological breakthroughs in the military field.
Timing his statement with the ongoing naval exercises east of the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi, according to IRNA said: “Iran is in a unique position in all areas, including manufacture of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, as well as defence and assault airplanes. Iran has also made great progress in electronic warfare technology, aviation industries and missile technology.”
He also lauded Iranian scientists for enabling the capture of the RQ-170 Sentinel, a sophisticated U.S. surveillance drone. The bat-shaped radar evading drone, used for the purpose of surveillance was first photographed at a Kandahar airfield in 2009.
Analysts point out that Iran began its 10-day naval manoeuvres on Saturday, mainly to press home the point that if attacked by the Americans or the Israelis, Tehran had the capability to seal the Strait of Hormuz — the main artery through which vast amounts of oil and gas from the Persian Gulf countries are shipped. Any blockage of the strait of Hormuz can trigger a global energy shortage, and cause a meteoric rise in oil prices — a prospect that can severely undermine recovery of leading recession hit economies. Iran has so far denied having any plans to close the Strait of Hormuz, but, nevertheless, has also hinted that its decision could change in case of a war.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said last week that “if the region faced a war-like situation, then everything would then become war-like.”
The Iranian Defence Minister said it would be suicidal for Israel to mount a military attack on Iran. “The Zionist regime [Israel] is completely isolated and under no circumstances it can attack Iran unless she wants to commit a suicide,” he observed. “It is due to the fact that it will receive deadly strikes from Iran which will make it unstable,” Brigadier General Vahidi added.
The downing of the drone, the tightening of U.S. sanctions on Iran and the withdrawal from Tehran of its diplomats by Britain, after its embassy was stormed by Iranian youths has heightened tensions between Iran and the West in recent weeks.